Boasting an outstanding cast, original storyline, and plenty of laughter, Kay Mellor’s romantic comedy A Passionate Woman transported audiences across time and space during a flawless opening night in Cheltenham.
Largely set in a Yorkshire attic crammed with memories, the audience was invited into Betty’s private escape and psyche from the start, drawn into the intimate thoughts of a middle-aged woman who, thanks to her son’s impending wedding, finds herself in crisis.
Paul Milton’s adaptation of A Passionate Woman offers a refreshing twist on the genre, as a comedy that makes you think.
Leading lady and television favourite Liza Goddard excelled in her role as the doting mother, her very presence captivating the audience during an impressive solo scene, mixing mundane memories of a trip to Asda and woes of an expanding waistline, with diatribes from a bitterly disappointing marriage.
References to the Corona man and Clodagh Rodgers drew smiles and murmurs from an audience sharing Betty’s trip down memory lane, while songs ‘Secret Love’ and ‘I Love How You Love Me’ proved simple but effective means of bringing the 1960s into the present.
A short but sweet first half saw Betty torn between her adored son, Mark (Anthony Eden), and the ghost of her murdered lover Craze (Hasan Dixon), with the raw script no doubt tugging at the heart strings of fellow mothers, while providing plenty of laughs.
Donned in iconic Sergeant Pepper clothing, Craze exuded arrogance, charm and nonchalance as a character whose sincerity couldn’t be trusted. Meanwhile, mid-30s Mark perfectly portrayed a desperate mummy’s boy who still needs help with his clothes.
Despite an ominous exchange before the curtain came down, the second half ramped up the comedy during a farcical exchange between father and son featuring fisticuffs and embarrassed emotions, while close-to-the-bone comments from husband Donald (Russell Dixon) offered an alternative perspective on his and Betty’s marriage.
And, while SoGlos doesn’t want to give away any spoilers, Kay Mellor’s story somehow managed to tackle the darkest of topics in a hilarious light – the laughter levels growing until the play’s brilliant climax which drew mid-scene applause.
Transcending the traditional boundaries of comedy, the play boasted authentic Yorkshire accents, a deceivingly simply stage, and wonderful chemistry between the cast, resulting in an outstanding show.
Paul Milton’s adaptation of A Passionate Woman offers a refreshing twist on the genre as a comedy that makes you think – tackling dark subjects whilst triumphing as a wholly uplifting performance.
Relatable, moving and downright funny, don’t miss the chance to reminisce and make new memories during Everyman Theatre’s production, before it leaves town on its UK tour.
By Kathryn Godfrey
Monday 20 February 2017
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