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Ladies' Day - A Review

Published: 17th May 2009 21:12

 What a fantastic production for The Garrick's seventh season of Rep productions in The Studio!

Ladies' Day is a real feel good comedy written by Amanda Whittington and directed by Alasdair Harvey. Four very different women from the local fish factory take a well earned break to visit Ladies' Day at York Racecourse. The stories that unfold are both hilarious and touching. The women have a strong bond of friendship working side by side, day in day out, gutting, filleting, and packing, and yet they each have secrets which are revealed through their day at the races.

The play only has a cast of five - so the pressure is on - but what a strong cast! There is not one weak link or moment in this production.

Sean Mckenzie is the only male cast member and his versatility shines through as he tackles six very different roles. He creates some lovely moments on stage. As Patrick the Irish jockey who is permanently hungry in order to maintain his low weight, he had the audience in stitches as he gently sent up his own slightly larger build. But he was able to change the mood and hold the audience as romantic, lonely Patrick clicks with naïve Linda. Equally as the slightly seedy celebrity TV presenter he really had the audience chuckling. It wasn't all laughs though: Mckenzie was able to turn comedy into tragedy as the race goer who had lost everything. However, it was in the role of Barry towards the end of the drama when he really held the audience and some choked back the tears in an incredibly touching scene with Pearl, played by Joanna Bacon.

Aged fifty five, Pearl is finishing work so that she can spend time with her retired hubby BUT her secret lover of seven years (Barry) is the true motivation behind her wish to go to the races. MS Bacon is incredibly strong in the role of Pearl - as are all the women in their roles. Pearl and Jan (Lorraine Cheshire) mother their two younger colleagues - Shelley (Abigail Longstaff a local girl) and Linda (Liz Simmons.) all the women have dreams and are looking for more than the 9 to 5 routine and daily grind. A bet on the tote could be the answer to their prayers.

Skilfully woven throughout this story are the music and lyrics of Tony Christie. The link to him comes from young, naïve Linda, his biggest fan. The ladies' dancing whilst getting ready for their big day out to Christie's, Amarillo, provided a really lively and unusual way to set the mood and scene change between the factory and the racecourse at the opening of the play.

The intimacy of The Studio was a perfect setting. We were drawn into these lives and the twists at the end of the story had the audience gasping with genuine surprise. The Garrick has already added extra shows due to increased demand for this show. If you miss it you will miss an absolute little gem. Honestly!

Jill Alldritt

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