Review of Ladies’ Day by Bob Lawson

12th November 2016 Cleadon Village Drama Club

Ladies’ Day by Amanda Whittington

Extracts from Bob Lawson’s personal view

Four fish packers from Hull decide to attend Ladies’ Day. The play itself has little relevance to racing, the drama coming mainly from the lives of the lowly four ladies. The play works best when there are only two actors on the open stage. One of the great pleasures of viewing on the open stage is the ability to be very close to the actors. One of the snags is the strong possibility of at least some of the players being masked by some of the audience, especially when more than two actors are on stage at the same time. In this play it is very evident when four or five players are on simultaneously. Bill, the Director, minimises these snags by getting the players to face different parts of the audience whenever possible without detracting from the flow of the play.

There are five male acting parts in this piece, all played by Dave Beston. Only an experienced actor can hope to get away with this as it calls for different accents, different body alignments, and different costumes. So Dave gives a mini master class in how to achieve this; I am sure that some of the audience who did not have a programme didn’t realise at first that only one actor was involved.

My favourite amongst Dave’s roles was his penultimate one, that of Barry the erstwhile lover. This low key vignette with Helen Irving was one of the most moving of the play.

Each of the lady actors had at least one chance to shine and show their skills. Jan, played by Doreen Shannon, was lovely as she milked the audiences sympathy for her toil stained life putting her daughter’s needs way above her own. Even her secret love for Joe was well portrayed.

Gemma Louise Crossley leapt out of her chrysalis as the annoyed fish packer into the beauty she really is as Shelley, the girl with ambitions for her attractiveness. The openings for her ambitions seemed doomed to failure until the finale? Gemma certainly looked and portrayed her role exactly and expertly.

Pearl, played by Helen Irving, took to her role with confidence and aplomb, dominating the stage whenever she was on. Her vignette with Jan was a fine piece of acting as she confessed on having a lover and how much he meant to her and how much she was disappointed when he failed to turn up. Then there was that lovely short scene with Barry, which as has already been mentioned, was a highlight of the play. Very well done Helen.

I’ve left Neeta Dulai’s performance to the last, not because she was least in a firmament of stars, because for a newcomer she’s become quite a supernova! As Linda, Neeta gave a really good, feeling performance. The way she showed the audience how bleak her life was with an unloving sponging mother who takes her meagre resources, was the emotional highlight of the play. Whenever Neeta was on stage her concentration was absolute (how to act without saying a word!). A lovely scene with the jockey was another joy. What a fine career in prospect on the Cleadon stage for Neeta.

I appreciate all the hard work done by Bill Dodds in directing this play, so many minor things to bear in mind such as the choice of music, the costumes, drilling the costume changes and so on, what a task.

Well done everybody.