A Passionate Woman
Will she come down? Will she go to her son’s wedding? When Betty climbs into the attic of her northern home in her wedding outfit, scarcely an hour before her son is about to wed his fiancée in his mid-thirties, we quickly realise she is troubled and unhappy. We are left wondering if she is about to ruin her precious son’s big day.
After years of unhappy marriage, when her only pride and joy has been her son Mark, she is facing separation from her principal reason to live. There is pathos in the deep anguish in her heart while talking about everyday trivia like her shopping trip to ASDA, the maggots in the cheese (an acquired taste!), and reproaching Mark for rushing into marriage at the age of 37!
The whole scene becomes increasingly complicated when she sees in the attic the ghost of a young Polish man with whom she once had a passionate affair. She talks to him and interacts with him even when Mark returns to the attic to persuade her to come down to join the wedding party. She sees what he cannot. The scene is both farcical and pathetically tragic.
Themes of bereavement, death and separation are explored while farce and absurdity are causing the audience to laugh. Betty lost her Polish lover when they moved apart and he subsequently was shot; she is about to lose her son to another woman and she has long lost her husband when romance died at the outset of their marriage.
After the interval the pace and humour goes up a gear and we have an exploration of the relationship of father and son. Donald is Mark’s father but he has proved incapable during the years of his marriage to communicate his love to his wife or his affection for his son. Mark witnesses his father crying for the first time in 40 years. The generations differ in their ability to express emotion.
Meanwhile the physical comedy escalates in ways that are reminiscent of The Play that Goes Wrong! The juxtaposition of serious themes and this sometimes crazy humour make for a truly entertaining evening.
Liza Goddard (Betty) gives a very well-modulated and measured performance of the woman who is losing her balance. Her Yorkshire accent may not be flawless but her communication of inner turmoil is brilliant. Anthony Eden plays her son Mark and Russell Dixon her husband: both provide strong performances.
The set is cleverly designed by Michael Holt and produces some pleasant surprises as the show progresses. Paul Milton’s excellent direction ensures the play maintains a sharp pace and great momentum. The audience are thoroughly engaged and entertained.
This show is great fun, clever, witty but with some serious ideas permeating the astute observation of human foibles. It is well worth getting along to see it this week. To 01-04-17.