HAPPY JACK by John Godber.


by John Godber

Theatre Royal Studio, York In rep to 3 November 2001
Runs 1hr 30min One interval

TICKETS 01904 623568
Review Timothy Ramsden 22 September

A new intimate performance space launched with affecting Godber revival.He were a miner, were Jack, what lived his adult life at Saxon Terrace, in West Yorkshire mining village of Upton, wi’ his wife Liz. She called him ‘Happy Jack’ cause he were allus a miserable bugger, or seemed so. Though he loved Liz to death he never told her, burying his affection as far below speech as he lived his working life underground.

And death came soon enough for both on ‘em, her riddled uncomplaining with cancer, him three year on with the diseases picked up from 42 year down mine, but also through being left to frame for issen after she’d gone.

They scrapped, right enough, did Jack and Liz – ‘You can shit,’ were words capped every row. But you can see just how proud they were, one on another, as their lives spool back through Godber’s little play (It’s a rait short neet out fer yer brass, but it dunt need be no longer nor have no more folks in it to tell its tale). And at end writer plays a trick on you what you’ll remember.

He shows how they met, two young ‘uns that had been at school together and were nobbut kids still, shyly starting out on their courting. Then he sezs, that’s not how it happened at all (‘cept maybe somewheer down inside their hearts) and shows relationship setting out as it went on, wi’ a first date arranged through a series of command and question challenges.

On the way we see Jack the fighter, Jack the playful giving his nipper a bath, Jack the imaginative (oh, yes) mekking up poems and stories. You might say of Tim Welton’s plain and simple production as John Kirk dunt quite gie us all Jack’s 6 foot lumbering force, but when he shouts you can see invisible characters move out of way.

As Liz Lucy Chalkley gies us snap anger and smiling wonder in a world where she lives through her man. Godber dunt make his ordinary folk seem extraordinary. He shows ordinary folks are individuals too and that’s plenty for most on us in life.

Liz: Lucy Chalkley
Jack: John Kirk

Director: Tim Welton
Designer: Laura McEwen

2001-09-23 12:37:06

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