Elder Daughter rose from her sick bed on Friday to play Lily, a very ordinary teenager, in a play called “Living with Lady Macbeth”. The play was divided into three parts, and each of the three forms in Elder Daughter’s year performed one part in the theatre. So there were three Lilys, of whom Elder Daughter was the first. Each part was judged against the other two. Elder Daughter’s form won a small silver cup for the best performance.
The whole play is about Lily, though she is very ordinary. She occupies the centre of the stage all of the time, though she is neither very clever, nor very funny, nor very sporty, nor very beautiful. She is just an ordinary, mousey teenager. In contrast the play has five girls who are tall and beautiful and confident and brash and rich and have fathers who are lawyers and accountants and bankers. They wear short skirts and high heels with long black socks pulled over their knees, and paint their nails and their lips. They make fun of girls like Lily, girls who have parents who wear glasses. They make fun of her clothes and her hair and her boyfriend and they laugh themselves stupid behind their fluttering eyelashes at the idea, the stupid idea, that Lily, Lily of all people, could ever take the lead role in their school play.
Lily wants to play the part of Lady Macbeth with every bit of her ordinary self. She becomes obsessed with the power that this woman represents. She rolls Lady Macbeths lines around and spits them out with the pent up anger of the outsider. She loves the way that she unsexes her husband, overcomes him and his weaknesses. She begins to live her life as Lady Macbeth, towering over the cowering sex kittens and banishing her worrying mother. It’s a very funny, accurately observed play, and absolutely perfect for a girls’ school.
I was so proud of my beautiful Elder Daughter. But part of me, the insecure part, wondered why they had chosen my daughter to be the ordinary one. I felt very ordinary and wondered if I was like Lily’s mother, never quite understanding her daughter and too scared to break out of their mediocrity. I knew my daughter would never have been chosen to be one of those tall, beautiful girls with their shiny self-assurance. She is not beautiful in a tall, obvious way. I loved her so much for her smallness and her openness and her bright open brown eyes that my chest swelled and a lump came to my throat, and she reminded me of me.
The playwright, Rob John, hoped that he had created a realistic Lily:
“I think that there are millions of Lilys in the world. They’re the people who you hardly ever notice, the ones who never get-into the in-crowd, who are thought to be dull, unattractive, untalented and totally ordinary. Perhaps we all have days when we feel like Lily and perhaps we too dream of one day doing something remarkable and proving everybody wrong.”