By Amanda Whittington
Gateshead Little Theatre
Until Saturday 12th October 2019
Gateshead’s Progressive Players approach their centenary with a positive story about working ladies on a retirement trip to the races.
The story centres on four ladies who work on the packing line of a Hull fish factory. Pearl (Lynn Sutton) is retiring after 22 years to spend more time with her husband of 36 years. It is clear that she’ll miss the sing alongs prompted by young Linda (Suzanne Clare) who has been a fan of Tony Christie since he returned to the charts. On her line is the aspiring Shelley (Kathryn Sergison), who clearly wants a life away from the factory, and Jan who lives with her daughter Clare but will soon have an empty nest as the youngster heads off to University. In numerous male roles is Neil Radbourne who starts the show as a factory supervisor who hopes to head off himself to Australia.
Pearl doesn’t want any fuss but the others acknowledge that they’ve not had much opportunity to dress up as a group since the wedding of another colleague at Hull’s Royal Station Hotel. After mentioning that it is Ladies Day at York Races it is agreed that they’ll catch the bus to York and have some fun.
Now it happens that this reviewer’s second job was working in a shop on Hull’s Hessle Road, in the middle of the city’s fishing industry. I served the lasses as they headed to the factory in the morning shifts and served them again when they wore their glad rags on the way to bingo. Fortunately, for the Gateshead audience, the Hull accent wasn’t laid on too thick and hence they could be understood! This show was originally created for Hull Truck and it fits in with the style of writing that they often produce.
Under the joint direction of Jude Downing and Louise Wright, Ladies Day has that gentle – yet sometimes cutting – feel of the celebrated television sit-com Dinner Ladies. There is a combination of happy moments that you’re glad to have shared with you, funny moments that you laugh out with the occasional revelation that makes you think. The changes in scenes are accompanied with various hits from Tony Christie which added to one of the themes of the play.
The cast, including James Soulsby as jockey Patrick, present a set of characters that you can relate to – and this is important to make the show work.
A gentle comedy with real heart, this is a fun night at the theatre.
Review: Stephen Oliver
Photographs: Jude Downing
Little Theatre Gateshead is located at 1-4A Saltwell View, Gateshead, NE8 4JS
Tickets cost between £7.00 - £9.00*
*online booking fee applies
Box Office: 0191 4781499 or online from https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on/gateshead/little-theatre-gateshead