It is difficult to argue with the success of A Passionate Woman, both in the wake of its original West Yorkshire Playhouse production and in its current re-birth on television, film and stage (a rapturous reception from a near-capacity Hull Truck audience). However, it still strikes me, as it did in Leeds in 1992, as a series of entertaining or moving sketches in search of a play.
Betty’s midlife crisis takes the extreme form of retreating to the attic on her son’s wedding day and burying herself among the memories of earlier days, notably the ghost of her former lover (a suitably mannered Stuart Manning). As son and husband advance, she moves ever upward and further into fantasy.
Writer Kay Mellor, taking the role of Betty, inhabits her character with confidence and with adept comic timing; however, the extended monologue that begins the play is from the world of standup (and very funny, too) and the character struggles to convince. Andrew Dunn and Anthony Lewis are good as father and son, with their highly effective scene together breaking down the otherwise conventional characterisation.