September in the Rain

Malvern Theatres


MAYBE it was because it was a rainy September night when I saw this performance, or because I had recently experienced a jolly old trip to Blackpool, but this play struck a particular chord with me.

With the illuminated tower in the background and talk of Blackpool rock, fish and chips and a rather shabby B&B, it will bring back chuckles of fond memories to anyone who has experienced the "Las Vegas of the north".

But even if you haven't, this gentle, very northern comedy written and directed by award-winning John Godber (of Bouncers, Up'n'Under and Salt of the Earth fame) has an enchantment about it.

The play is a bittersweet look back at elderly couple Jack and Liz's memories of annual visits to Blackpool from when they first met to their final stay - nearly always bickering, but always in love.

It's the normality and comedy in everyday actions that is at the core of this two hour show. Like silly arguments over petty things, the ridiculousness of cleaning the house before you go on holiday and walking in the rain for hours after a squabble. Godber brings out the humour in them all.

Liz is excitable and optimistic, while coal miner Jack is dour and uncompromising, and together they are a storybook on married life, work, expectations and holidays in predominantly the 1950s. 

With just the two leads on stage, it needed strong character actors to carry this off, who came in the shape of former Brookside star Claire Sweeney and comedian John Thomson, from Cold Feet and Waterloo Road.

Their acting showed much more depth than some of their television roles have demanded and it was impressive how swiftly they changed in age and also transformed into characters the couple meet on their adventures.

Very similar in style to an Alan Bennett play, September in the Rain gently tells you a story. A story of a couple and a story of Blackpool that will leave you with a comforting, warm feeling. To 14-09-13.

Alison Brinkworth 

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