A Parent’s Guide to I Remember Mama (Play)

WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.

I Remember Mama by John Van Druten

Type: Classic, Fictional Biography

Basic Plot: Kathryn Forbes is the daughter of a Norwegian immigrant family. She and her family go through simple adventures and learn life lessons. The story is based off of the book Mama’s Bank Account.


Plot: 3/5 Average: The plot is similar to the books, but is more detailed over a few things rather than less detailed over many. This was probably better for a play, though I miss some things that were in the book. New things and details were added, but it was always accurate with the characters.

Style and Setup: 3/5 Average: The pace of the play was different than the book. The book had several stories that were mostly unrelated, but the play has a story that covers things that were and were not in the book more chronologically and related than the book did. For a play this was probably good, as it felt smooth, but it also kept certain things from showing up and certain morals from appearing.

Moral: 2½/5 Small, Good Morals: There are still morals similar to the ones in the first book, but they are not as frequent. Like the books there is no main moral (unless maybe the idea of how important your mother is), but has several small good ones.

Overall: 3/5 Average: The play is good, though not as good as the book. It isn’t a fine piece of art necessarily, but it would be a nice play to see at a low price.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 1/5 Suggestive: A boy is told by his mother not to tell his little sister how to tell what gender animals are. A man lives with a woman that is married to another man. The written version mentions that sometimes the clothing is short (though it seems that short usually means knee length).

Violence: ½/5 Slightly Suggestive: A cat is known for getting in fights, though it is never shown.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 2½/5 Moderate Swearing: “Damn” is misused seven times. “Hell” is misused four times. God’s name is taken in vain three times. “Gee” is said three times. It is said that certain characters are known for swearing, and a man asks a child if he swears and then teaches him how too.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 1/5 Slightly Emotional Scenes: “Kill” is used as a metaphor. A cat nearly dies, and a little girl cries and is very sad because of this. Some people decide to try to kill a cat with chloroform, but they fail. Blood is mentioned once. A man dies from old age, though it does not directly show his death. A man has a hurt leg, though it does not go into detail about the injury. A girl tries to write a poem that mentions death quite often. A woman worries she will be poisoned if she uses a certain woman’s kitchen.

Religious Issues: ½/5: Suggestive: A man says being a doctor is like having “a little of God in you.”

Magic: ½/5 Slight Mention: A witch is mentioned in a poem for descriptive purposes.

Others: Tobacco, wine, drinking, and dancing are mentioned. Smoking, the use of snuff, and drinking show up in the show, and a man is once drunk and talks about how he wants and likes to get drunk (though it is suggested that he does not completely mean this.) A cat is named Elizabeth, even though he is later found out to be a boy and is then called Uncle Elizabeth.

Overall: 2½/5 Almost Child Appropriate: I would recommend that a person be thirteen or fourteen at least before seeing this as there is swearing, and some may not want to see it because a man is with a woman who is already married to someone else.


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