1. It’s incredible writing.
Shaw was known to have said of Lawrence: "I wish I could write such dialogue, with mine I always hear the sound of the typewriter.” I don’t entirely agree, as I think Shaw is a great writer but I do know what he means. The dialogue, written in the most part in the regional Nottinghamshire dialect, and the textual clues/stage directions that Lawrence gives us to suggest how the characters relate to one another, is so painfully real and beautifully poetic at the same time. The Daughter-in-Law really is his masterpiece.
2. It’s a great story.
This is not simply a period piece about a working class mining community, it has much more universal themes that speak to everyone. It’s a play about love, family, complex relationships, power struggles, sex, class and sometimes violence. It’s difficult stuff and the passion, determination and fearlessness that these characters display feels very modern. He really was writing well ahead of his time. And of course, set against the backdrop of the miners’ strikes, it provides a certain relevance to current political and economical affairs. Don’t worry, there are some very lovely comic moments too and we are left with some hope as the play comes to an end in the couple’s more tender and beautifully written final scene.
3. The Company.
As a Manchester actress and having worked for the Library Theatre before, I have a personal connection with this company and their contribution to Manchester’s cultural life. Everyone here works so hard and the time and care that goes into every production is excellent, and The Daughter-in-Law is no exception. The care and precision that has gone into creating the right feel for the period with the set, costume, props and the specificity of the work from the director and actors to ensure that this fantastic play is brought to life how Lawrence would have wanted is second to none.
4. The Cast.
There are only six of us. It’s very interesting working with such a small company. My last job was open air Shakespeare and there were 14 in the company! There is a very intimate feel here and I’m sure that affects the work that is produced. It all feels very safe in rehearsal and we are becoming very close as an on-stage family to the point where I wonder if Diane Fletcher is that gorgeous wonderful actress or indeed my wicked mother-in-law and I’m finding myself putting the delightful Alun Raglan in his place even at tea breaks!
5. Great female characters!
OK, so the feminist in me says come and see this play and celebrate wonderfully written roles for women! I’m not saying they don’t exist elsewhere, but I do find it is becoming rarer and rarer that I am sent a script where I squeal with excitement (as I did with this play) at the prospect of working on the female characters. I’m usually saying ‘I wish I was playing him!’ - not here! These women are gifts of parts for any actress. Good, strong, passionate women with all the complexities, desires and insecurities that actors thrive on exploring.
The Daughter-in-Law runs at the Lowry from 23 February - 10 March 2012.
For more information visit the Library Theatre website.
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