The Oldham Coliseum Theatre is currently staging A Fine Bright Day Today,a new play written especially for them by Philip Goulding.
Margaret (Christine Cox) is a trawlerman’s widow, living in the same coastal house that she shared with her husband and their daughter, Rebecca (Samantha Power). The play begins when 30-something Rebecca is finally leaving home to embark on a new life with her boyfriend. Margaret is content to endlessly maintain her status quo until Milton (Robin Bowerman), an American artist, becomes her lodger and opens her eyes to her surroundings and the potential of a new and fulfilling life.
Director Kevin Shaw makes creative and functional use of the detailed and innovative set, designed by Alison Heffernan, which incorporates the downstairs of a house with a well-kept garden, a more rugged beachside area and the backdrop of a wild sea, constantly reminding us of its threat. The music between scenes, composed by Alan Edward Williams, provides a thought-provoking and intriguing atmosphere.
This is a pleasant story with some touching moments between a mother and her determined daughter, a lonely woman and her antisocial admirer and a fun-loving girl with her interesting new companion. The love story is somewhat secondary to the overriding message of seizing the day and making the most of those we do have, rather than those we have lost.
With strong performances from an experienced cast, the Coliseum’s audience were audibly enjoying the lighter, comedic moments, seemingly drawn to the recognisable characters. It is my feeling that the narrations by Milton are an unnecessary distraction which could be revealed as dialogue within the scenes.
The play might also benefit from more jeopardy. Though we are drawn into the world of protagonist Margaret, her role is passive. To see her actively make the changes within her own life would be the refreshing conclusion that the play inspires.