by Charlotte Keatley.

Duke’s Playhouse (The Round) To 27 February 2010.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat 25 Feb 10.30am.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.

TICKETS: 01524 598500.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 18 February.

Sympathetic outing for a play every mother’s daughter, and son, should see.
What is a classic? With modern drama it might be a play that’s repeatedly revived, coming-up fresh despite time passing, and capable of revealing new aspects. And then being directed by someone who first studied it at school. As Lancaster director Amy Leach did Charlotte Keatley’s modern classic.

In 1987 Keatley’s four female generations of a Lancashire family virtually spanned the century. Nearly a quarter-century later, despite the play’s present-moment become the last century, these people’s lives remain as immediate as ever. The test will be the response from a new generation, but the attachments, good intentions, the sense of betrayal and loss, are intricately woven into the play’s fabric, where time seems fluid, the past as real as the present, the sense of the off-stage men real yet non-intrusive.

In later scenes Keatley introduces two objects, a game of solitaire and a grass-stained dress. More powerful for their apparent inconsequence, they sum-up the significance she affords her characters and the play’s optimistic tone. Life’s solutions must be worked out by each individual, while decades after the incident, a mark on some clothing still evokes a life-changing moment. Both also create continuity with the past.

On designer Hayley Grindle’s wasteland setting, a strong image except when realistic furniture’s called for, Leach’s cast catch the variety in these women, ending as young Rosie sits calmly with her great-grandmother Doris. Anne Kavanagh shows Doris’s hope, mirrored in the play’s kite imagery, that each generation’s women, whatever their mistakes, will go further, while Josie Daxter’s Rosie regains her youthful optimism after it’s been compromised by the great secret that opens her eyes to life’s complexities.

Between them, Christine Mackie portrays a World War II child’s playfulness and the anxieties of a mother in the new world of the 1960s, while Lorna Beckett efficiently handles Jackie, finding her way in this new age. That age, also the writer’s childhood, is the crucible of tensions. Maybe another time now seems more problematic, and another play will show how. And the force to inspire new plays exploring similar territory is probably another aspect of the classic.

Jackie Metcalfe: Lorna Beckett.
Rosie Metcalfe: Josie Daxter.
Doris Partington: Anne Kavanagh.
Margaret Bradley: Christine Mackie.

Director: Amy Leach.
Designer: Hayley Grindle.
Lighting: Brent Lees.
Sound: Amy Clarey.

2010-02-21 22:57:51

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