Rita, Sue and Bob, Too, Bolton Octagon
Saturday 23 September 2017
Andrea Dunbar was discovered by Max Stafford-Clark when he was running the Royal Court and was only 19 when she wrote this semi-autobiographical play. The play (and the title) revolves around two fifteen-year-old girls (Taj Atwal as Rita, Gemma Dobson making her professional stage debut as Sue) and their affair with a 27-year-old married man (James Atherton as Bob) for whom they regularly babysit.
Set on a council estate, similar to the Buttershaw estate in Bradford where Andrea lived until her early death (aged just 29), Rita, Sue And Bob Too, offers a candid dose of social realism combined with sparky, humorous dialogue, some industrial grade swearing and naked (male) buttocks.
The buttocks in question belong to Bob, and are on display in the opening scene of the play, which dramatises their first sexual encounter, an awkward, cramped threesome in his car parked on the moors as he is running Rita and Sue home from babysitting. The humour in the scene largely comes from the running commentary and some great reactions from whichever girl is not currently participating.
For Rita and Sue, the affair is a brief, thrilling adult adventure and a temporary escape from a bleak, uncertain future of YTS jobs in 1980s Britain. Of course, when the cat is out of the bag, it is the two girls who are branded as sluts and home wreckers. Bob’s wife (Samantha Robinson) is also blamed, whilst Bob gets off virtually scot-free.
The play depicts situations that many theatregoers may find shocking, particularly when we are all now much more aware of recent grooming cases. But underage sexual encounters were part and parcel of everyday estate life for Andrea Dunbar. Despite her obvious writing talent, she never escaped from the estate. Similarly, despite their spark and attitude, the future looks bleak for Rita and Sue, best friends who end up estranged. Rita’s aspiration of becoming a policewoman appears doomed when she becomes pregnant at 16, while Sue ends up in a soul-destroying dead-end job.
Played straight through without an interval, with accomplished performances by all the cast, this is a short sharp shock of a play with plenty to amuse, entertain and make you think.
Photo credits: Richard Davenport
For Love or Money, Liverpool Playhouse
Wednesday 22 November 2017
The theatre group enjoyed another successful trip, this time to Liverpool Playhouse, to see For Love or Money.
This production is a final tour for Barrie Rutter, the artistic director of Northern Broadsides, who founded the company 25 years ago. It may not have been as musical and charming as some previous Northern Broadsides productions, but was witty, slick and stylish.
Blake Morrison’s adaptation of the French play Turcaret moves the action from Paris to a small Yorkshire village where an attractive widow, Rose, is pursued by two men. Rose is impoverished and selling off her inheritance to fund her languid lifestyle. Jessica Worrell’s cleverly designed set has little furniture and pale patches in the wallpaper where the family pictures used to hang.
One of Rose’s suitors is the ageing banker, Fuller, who showers her with gifts and clearly has marriage in mind. The other is Arthur, a wastrel, who uses her money to pay his gambling debts. So far, so straightforward, but then there is a twist. Arthur has a servant, Jack Sprout, whom he treats poorly and sends on errands. Jack is not content to remain a servant and he and his love, a lady of ill repute, plot to acquire as much money as they can to fund a new life for themselves. Add a naïve farmer looking for a wife and Fuller’s estranged wife seeking her allowance and complications ensue. However, all is resolved just in time for a celebratory Charleston.
Rutter is excellent as the bumptious Fuller, deflating beautifully when he is confronted by his wife, a stunning performance by Sarah Parks, whose ‘French’ accent steals the show. Jos Vantyler as Arthur preens in every scene and Jordan Metcalfe manages to turn Jack from the pale servant to the scheming plotter with ease. Sarah-Jane Potts as Rose, is by turn cunning and seductive and is unaware of the furore she is causing.
Overall this was an excellent telling of the moral tale of the consequences of lies, greed and corruption. The clever script and stylish production ensured that this was another success for the company and a fitting finale to Rutter’s long association with them.
Photo credits: Nobby Clarke
Many thanks to minibus driver, Hilary Morris.
For a reminder of the show, watch the trailer: >>HERE
Under the Market Roof, Chorley Market
Wednesday 18 October 2017
On Wednesday 18 October, eight of us went to Chorley Market to see the first theatre production for ‘Junction 8 Theatre’ performing ‘Under the Market Roof’ by Becky Prestwich at a cost of £10 per ticket.
All the seating was under gazebos surrounded by fairy lights, giving a lovely warm atmosphere. Even though it was an October night, we all went dressed appropriately with scarves, gloves and thick coats but needn’t have worried as a warm cosy blanket was supplied on every seat.
Drinks were available on the market before and after the show at The Bob Inn – Lancashire’s smallest pub. You could also get food from Bee’s Country Kitchen.
About the Play
Set in Chorley market, the play revolves around Len and his granddaughter Lisa who is facing a decision over whether she should take over the running of her grandfather’s stall. Ever since she was a child, Lisa has spent her Saturdays working on her Granddad Len’s hardware stall. Everyone knows old Len, the man who turned up on Chorley Market as a lad with nothing but a couple of suitcases of stock and made a life out of it. But Len hasn’t seemed himself lately, and Lisa starts to wonder if the ‘L. Shaw’ sign above the cabin could be ‘L’ for Lisa. She loves the market and the people at the heart of it, but is her Mum right when she says there’s no future in the market?
Photo credits: Junction 8 Theatre
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the play. Inventive props with Len’s hardware stall full of goods, disappearing into the actual market behind when not required and magically reappearing for relevant scenes. At various times, people would appear round or through the gazebos (just like they would on a normal market day). Such as the lady on a mobility scooter, a crowd of football fans and people who just generally drift through a market. All of us agreed it was a great play and a good night out. We would certainly go to other performances by ‘Junction 8 Theatre’.
If you are a Coronation Street fan, there was the added bonus of having Julie Hesmondhalgh (Hayley in Corrie) in the audience. One of our group managed to obtain an autograph for her daughter who is a huge fan.
Three of the visits group (original number depleted by illness) went to the Alabaster Jar last week to decorate some pottery and had a very enjoyable time. We expect to see the results of our artistry some time this week.
The Alabaster Jar in Chorley has a wide selection of pottery pieces – mugs, jugs, plates, Christmas decorations – from which you select what you want and then decorate them with glazes provided by the shop. Once your artwork is finished it is glazed and fired by the owners of the shop and is ready about a week later. It is fun and very well run by the extremely helpful owners for whom nothing is too much trouble.
Media city Saturday October 7th
On arrival, the group split up for the next hour or so, to either go to cafes or The Lowry museum or shopping.
Everyone arrived on time to go through security for the BBC Tour, which was straight forward.
The tour was extremely informative and various members of the group participated in areas such as radio presenters or In the Breakfast TV programme We had 2 newsreaders and I was a weather forecaster, but Carol Kirkwoods job is quite secure !
It was very interesting to see the BBC in action, both the radio and TV and meeting staff from both areas.
After the visit there was time for shopping, food or a visit to the Lowry.
Altogether everyone seemed to enjoy a busy day but an interesting one
Thanks to Hilary Morris for driving and calmly sorting out the extremely complicated parking payment arrangements
The Bridge group met up for the first time today (Tues 17 Oct) after the summer break. There were 6 of us, some brand new, others keen learners. After a basic introduction to some of the rules, we played several hands under the expert and patient guidance of Cathy Jones. The new Bridge boxes were a good help.
Future meetings will be held fortnightly on Tuesday afternoons at 2pm. As the meetings take place in my house, numbers are limited and it is important that you contact me (contact details above) to discuss details and venue directions.
See me at the November meeting at Fox Lane for more details
Cathy Jones.- 01772 456482 Email me [HERE]