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I've long suspected it's really a woman's world and Ladies' Day neatly proves it, but the living, breathing stories of these four quite ordinary women show we all have deep within us the potential to be more than we think we can.
Rooted in their own humdrum lives these ladies only once get a taste of the high life but it gives them that all-important chance to explore the impossible and find maybe it might just work for them. The result is pure theatrical joy.
Director Alasdair Harvey has a ball bringing these ladies to the races and they reward him with performances that gallop gorgeously to the finishing line.
Lichfield's own lovely Abigail Longstaffe transforms effortlessly from dreamer to sassy but vulnerable glamourpuss Sahara while newcomer Liz Simmons as frail bud Linda blossoms as the play progresses. The sublime Joanna Bacon is Pearl whose glamorous side hides a saucy secret soon to be revealed while subtle Lorraine Cheshire as the frumpy Jan shows we all have our chance - seizing it is all we need to do. Spare a thought for poor lone male Sean McKenzie whose multiple disguises brilliantly span the entire gamut of male role models for us poor men.
There are tons of laughs here and not a few tears - you're not going to see better, but book soon. I had the last seat on Press Night, and if I get to the Box Office first I intend seeing it again before the run ends on 23rd May.
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!
When four filleters at a Hull fish factory decide on a day out then Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot might not seem an obvious choice but this is 2005 when the society meeting moved to York while the Berkshire course was revamped. The outing marked Pearl's leaving (Joanna Bacon) but we soon found she had her own reasons for going racing. But then the homely Jan (Lorraine Cheshire), tarty wannabe Shelley (Abigail Longstaffe) and naïve Linda (Liz Simmons) all had their secrets as betting slips and lives headed for a last race climax. Through it all, like a loose horse, ran Sean McKenzie in six roles from factory overseer to jockey in this Alasdair Harvey directed Rep production. Ordinary lives can be funny and sad, and the excellent cast manage both sides beautifully in this touching comedy with Liz Simmons, newly graduated from Birmingham School of Acting, worth a special mention. This is her first professional role but no one would ever know it. The Rep has a rapidly growing reputation and this production will do it no harm at all - runs until May 23.