September in the Rain at Warkworth and Lesbury Village Halls by Warkworth Drama Group.
John Godber’s wonderfully poignant play about a Yorkshire couple’s memories of annual holidays to Blackpool, examining the often bumpy road travelled by partners in a long relationship, was performed last month.
Jack is a big, taciturn miner whose inner demons are occasionally exposed by his vicious verbal outbursts aimed at nagging, neurotic wife Liz, pub smokers and drivers on the log-jammed Preston bypass.
And Liz, uncertain of her true feelings towards Jack, combined with her own low self esteem, hopes that the annual trek over the Pennines will somehow solve any domestic uncertainties.
Most of the play is set on the Blackpool beach; him with a shirt firmly buttoned to the top, head covered by knotted hankie and sporting his usual day shoes, and her in a simple dress, insisting that he partially disrobe.
Her constant nagging about how and what he should wear in order to enjoy the holiday leads to friction and arguments.
The bickering even stretches to the colour of their first car: was it a green and white Ford Anglia or green and cream Ford Popular?
Directed by Mike Dixon, the two-act play is set with a minimal backdrop and few props – a couple of deckchairs and a battered suitcase.
The brilliance of the dialogue was beautifully brought to life by Meg Dixon and Dave Stockwin.
For two actors to hold an audience’s attention for nearly two hours is an outstanding achievement and testament to their skills and the very obvious chemistry between them.
The sadness and pathos was punctuated by great comic moments, such as the sheer terror of being on top of the Blackpool Tower and the vomit-inducing rapid descent whilst riding the roller-coaster.
The audience was in stitches by the description of what was floating in an otherwise spotless sewer main, which was revealed in one of the many stories garnered from fellow holiday-makers during past vacations.
Inevitably the holidays – always taken by mining families during ‘Leger Week’ in September – are rain-affected: just what any pitman who spends most of his time underground really appreciates.
This production was nothing short of superb and congratulations must go to the group for maintaining its richly deserved reputation for dramatic excellence.