ACT in Action Issue 17
student living off a grant at 45.” But with the help of her female cohorts she, too, finds a way forward – now all she wants is to find a man – or woman – to make her happy. Corrina Clark, who has most recently been more involved in Garrick productions, was perfect for this role. She moved beautifully on stage, was assured in her delivery and confident in her stage presence. A lovely, colourful, exuberant performance. This play is unashamedly BY a woman, ABOUT women and FOR women, so it is not surprising that the only male role is small and without much depth. Andy Bell played the part well (this role being played part of the week by David Anthony Cross), and certainly made the most of his big moment at the end of the play when the ladies get their own back on this Little Hitler. We certainly got to see a lot more of him than expected!
Despite the future of the baths being in doubt, the play ends on a high note with Bill running off to hide, Dawn brandishing her new ‘souvenir’ and everyone having a jolly good time to the strains of Shania Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like a Woman” This is a forgotten play, very much of its time, and I can appreciate why it is seldom performed by amateurs. Nell Dunn’s script is dated – though in these days of cutbacks and austerity perhaps it is right back on trend. But its greatest strength is in the gradual unpeeling of the facades of each of these women, all of whom are unhappy with their lot, but for whom the camaraderie and friendships they find at the baths gives them a chance to see beyond their tiny world, and to consider what MIGHT have been – and indeed what still may be. in front of the assembled company and his new bride. The newlyweds finally retire, only for their marital bed to collapse as the result of a practical joke played by Arthur’s boorish boss, Joe Thompson. Violet laughs at the situation, but Arthur imagines she is laughing at him and then is not able to consummate their marriage. Unable to obtain a home of their own, Violet and Arthur continue living in the crowded Fitton house with Arthur’s parents and adult brother, Geoffrey. The thin walls and lack of privacy exacerbate Arthur’s discomfort. As days pass into weeks, the marriage remains unconsummated, and the strain between the couple steadily worsens. Eventually, Violet confides in her mother, resulting in Violet’s parents visit Arthur’s parents to tell them. Lucy Fitton reminisces to the Pipers how Ezra took Billy, his close male friend since childhood, along on their honeymoon and spent more of his time with Billy than with her. Violet is urged by her Mother to confide in her Uncle Fred, a physiotherapist and rabbit breeder. His homespun analogy to breeding rabbits indicates that Arthur’s problem would likely be resolved if she andArthur lived in their own home instead of inArthur’s father’s house. Arthur and Violet’s problem soon becomes an open secret, and flashpoints inevitably occur between Arthur and his sleazy employer, Joe Thompson, and between Arthur and Violet, with surprising consequences. The play resonates with good old Lancashire comedy, familial confrontation, poignancy, and pathos. Playing the plain-spoken and artless Ezra Fitton, gasworks labourer
ALL IN GOOD TIME by Bill Naughton directed by John Cummings Burnley Garrick
Born into relative poverty in County Mayo, Bill Naughton moved to Bolton in 1914 as a child. There he attended Saint Peter and Paul’s School, and worked as a weaver, coal-bagger and lorry-driver before he started writing. Although best remembered for his play, ‘Alfie’, mostly because of the British film starringMichael Caine in the eponymous role, Naughton was a prolific writer of plays, novels, short stories and children’s books. His preferred environment was the working-class society, which is reflected in much of his written work. In addition to ‘Alfie’, at least two of his other plays have been made into feature films. These are ‘Spring and Port Wine’, which had James Mason starring, and ‘All in Good Time’, filmed as ‘The Family Way’, which starred John Mills, his daughter Hayley and Hywel Bennett. The play opens with the wedding night celebrations of young Violet Piper to cinema projectionist, Arthur Fitton. A rowdy reception is held in the home of the groom’s parents in the town of Bolton. Arthur’s father, Ezra, leads the entertainment with dancing and drunken singing with party guests in the living room. Arthur clashes with Ezra, a lifelong gasworks labourer, who doesn’t understand his son’s enjoyment of reading and classical music. After a strained evening, where Ezra goads Arthur into an arm-wrestling match, he defeats and embarrasses him
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