Work, love and life are just one hard slog for a fish-filleting foursome from Hull. But their fortunes are set to change when they find tickets to Ladies Day the year when Royal Ascot relocates to York. Out go the hairnets, overalls and wellies as the four ditch work, do themselves up to the nines, and head off to the races for a drink, a flirt and a flutter. If their luck holds, they could hit the jackpot – and more besides! Originally a Hull Truck Theatre Company production, ‘Ladies Day’ is a comedy full of warmth and Yorkshire heart.
16 - 18th May 2019
Peri Kennedy & Alicia Earls
National Operatic & Dramatic Association London Region
Society : Parish Players
Production : Ladies’ Day
Date : 18th May 2019
Venue : St Mary’s Parish Hall, Merton
Report by : Phil Wilcox
After a pleasant welcome, I entered the hall to be confronted by an intriguing set dominated by four steel structures. As the effective bright lighting (Nick Roberts, David Reeves and Andy Wood) came up, they were revealed to be the workstations of the four main protagonists in the production, Maggie, Jan, Shelley and Linda, the fish gutters (expertly conveyed, with some realistic fish) in the Hull-based fish plant.
The well-acted humorous banter between them in the opening scene set up their differing relationships and aspirations effectively and prepared us for the big day at the races in the play’s title. Nick Carroll as Joe made an impact as the sole male representative. Snatches of Tony Christie’s Amarillo helped the pretty slick scene changes by stage manager Sally Reeves’ backstage team go smoothly.
Good use was made of props and furniture (Sarah Woropay and cast), including essential (reversible) bookies’ signs. There was a competent cameo by Peter Alder as Fred. Jeremy Hicks, playing TV commentator Jim McCormack, gave a first class performance, both comedic and calculating. His recital of the horses’ names and odds (simultaneously displayed behind his back on appropriate boards, so he couldn’t afford to make the slightest slip!) was an admirable feat of memory.
The women’s northern accents (not always easy to do, with the distinction between short and long “A’s”) were authentic. Costumes, provided by the cast, were striking.
Act 2 introduced Paul Riches as jockey Patrick. His solo speech out front was well projected and his description of a past race to Linda was masterly. There was a neat atmospheric touch with the silks dangling from the reversed bookies’ board.
The well-cast quartet was a delight throughout. In alphabetical order, Jan (Caryl Court) was totally credible. Her drunken scene (so easy to go over the top) was an exercise in just how to play it, right down to her very amusing collapse perfectly on cue. Tash Rewrie made a hilarious, divvy, Linda, the Tony Christie devotee, reminiscent of Anita’s character in Victoria Woods’ dinnerladies series. Her Yorkshire accent was arguably the most consistently maintained.
Maggi Chick’s Pearl totally held the stage in all her scenes and her poignant duologue with a strong, faultless Pete Smith as Barry brought a lump to my throat. The brassy, down-to-earth Shelley was perfectly characterised by Caroline Chick, totally believable.
Playing the luckless punter, Kevin, Angus Litster established his character immediately from his dishevelled entrance and made the most of his part. Last, but not least, well done to David Golder, the faceless, but effective, racecourse announcer. Overall sound (Dom Power) was good and the whole team involved in the play from front of house to set design and construction should be congratulated.
The pay-off (if somewhat predictable) made a happy ending to Amanda Whittington’s enjoyable comedy drama. One imagines that the four females might have gone on to “blue” their windfall in the location which provided the title for Tony Christie’s first UK hit back in 1971 – Las Vegas ….
Well done to director Peri Kennedy and her associate Alicia Earls.
The production was an odds-on winner!