Brian Beacom

MOTHERHOOD is a popular opportunity these days.

Television is fresh from revealing the travails of being a young mum in BBC Two’s Motherland.

And the older mother is currently being featured in the same channel’s Mum, starring Lesley Manville.

Now, Oran Mor is getting in on the act with Party Politics, a new play by Lorna Martin.

The monologue features Sally Reid as the mother whose love knows no bounds. But how does she cope when her little daughter isn’t invited to little Bo’s birthday party?

“It’s really about a young mum’s neurosis,” says Sally, smiling.

“It’s not so much about what the mum thinks the rejection means to the child, it’s more about what it means to the mother.”

She adds; “The mum keeps saying the kid feels excluded, she feels terrible, but it’s not the case. The six year-old daughter is a shield to protect the mother from revealing her true feelings.”

Being a young mum is a fascinating area of exploration. Kids don’t come with a rule book. Who says how much a mother has to invest in their child? Who can help steer the young mum through the process, tell them they are getting things out of perspective?

Who will tell them they’re being bonkers?

Sally, who stars in BBC Scotland’s Scot Squad as part of a double act with Jordan Young, isn’t a mother.

But that’s not to say she’s immune to the effects of young motherhood.

“I’m surrounded by young mothers who are my friends,” she says with a knowing smile. “And you do see a noticeable difference in how they behave as mothers. This isn’t being judgemental; I’m not talking about a bad or a good way.

“And I suppose there are a million different ways in which you can be a mother.”

Children can sometimes become an opportunity, an excuse, a diversion tactic . . .

“Yes, and a birthday party can heighten all of that. We all want to be cool and invited to the birthday party in life.

“I guess this story is a metaphor for that.”

Was Sally one of those children who was invited to the parties, growing up in Perthshire?

“I grew up in a small village and what would happen was the parties would be held in the village hall,” she recalls, smiling.

“My birthday was on the 21st and there was a boy in the village who was born on the 18th. So we always had a joint party. And I honestly hated it.”

She adds, smiling; “I still feel it now. I really resent it.”

The actress breaks into a laugh; “Maybe this was a suggestion I was always going to become an egotistical performer who had to share the spotlight with someone else.”

Sally reveals how the inner drama queen manifested itself at one party.

“When I was four years old I wrecked the boy’s cake,” she recalls, with a delicious malevolence in her eyes which suggests even now, she has no regrets.

“I stuck my hand right in it.”

Later on, when Sally was having a party, another little girl turned up who also had a birthday that weekend.

“I had just blown out my candles and my mum re-lit the cake so Julie could blow them out to.

“And I was furious. This was my cake. I just knew this cake-sharing was completely unjustified.”

How long did Sally spend in therapy trying to get over her birthday party traumas?

“Well, it is a big deal when you’re a kid,” she says, grinning.

And it’s a bigger deal, at times, for parents.

“There was a story in the papers recently about a mum who had to invite 60 kids to a party. And she decided to charge the parents £6 a head – no presents - to cover the costs. There was a big radio debate about the rights or wrongs of this.”

Sally now realises her mum has been fantastic in her life. Rather more balanced than the mother she is set to play.

“The play hints at the loneliness of being a mother. Her husband it out at work all day and this story hints at the notion they’d been trying for a baby for some time.

“And now that she’s six, the mother isn’t really coping with it all.”

She adds; “The family live across the road from the school and she can see her daughter all the time.

“But even though she’s neurotic, you can see where the neurosis is coming from.

“It’s quite heart breaking at times.”

Sally Reid, at just 35, is something of a veteran of Scottish theatre, feauturing in a range of comedy and dramatic roles, from Rona Munro’s The James Plays to Ionesco farce Rhinocerous.

She is often cast as schoolgirls, or women in their early twenties.

Now, she’s tackling a monologue for the first time.

“It’s a good challenge. I’m not scared of it. I know the story and I’m prepared.

“But it’s also good to play a mum. And I’m pleased that in the past few months I seem to have been playing my own age.

“I played a benefits assessor, at the Traverse at Christmas and played a man in Rhinocerous.”

The career variety is a reflection of the actress’s talent, highly visible in theatre and television.

“I hope Scot Squad comes back for another series,” she says, anticipating the question.

Meantime, she’s a mum, with psychological problems. Perhaps that will be her too, one day?

“I’d like to be a mum,” she says, smiling.

*Party Politics, Oran Mor, until Saturday.