Stuart Manning, Kay Mellor & Anthony Lewis
New Wolsey Theatre
3 May 2011 WOS Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews It’s no criticism of the writing or of the performances to say that Foxton’s set design for Kay Mellor’s updated version of A Passionate Woman is one of the stars of the show. I won’t spoil your enjoyment by telling you exactly what happens to that initial attic demi-lune set, fringed with the leftovers from 40 years of family life; just that it’s extremely effective.
The action takes place in Leeds on Mark’s wedding-day in 1993. Betty, His mother has dressed for the ceremony, but there are too many things in her life of which she can’t let go. Not the least of these is Mark himself. As husband Donald and the rest of the wedding party become ever more agitated, she locks herself in the attic with her memories.
Some are happy. Some are sad. One re-materialises. So the double-drama plays out – Betty’s own and the one of the wedding itself. This is not soap territory, nor altogether imaginative fantasy, but something which Mellor balances very cleverly between the two. She herself plays Betty in a bravura performance which lets us laugh with as well as at the character.
Not that the rest of the cast lag behind.
Stuart Manning, all brylcreamed jet-black quiff, sharp suit and winkle-picker shoes, is her 1950s Lothario; you can sense why Betty fell for him at that time. Anthony Lewis’s son is very much a chip off James Hornsby’s fatherly block. Lewis gives us a young man trying to get both his fiancée Jo and his mother on the same side. Hopeless job, of course.
In a way, Hornsby has the most difficult task of all the actors. You can see why his carefulness would irritate someone like Betty, but Hornsby shows us why he is as he is. Director
Garth Tudor Price paces the whole play beautifully. It’s a slice of not-quite real life with elements to we can all relate a little. That’s why soap operas grip the country’s imagination, isn’t it? Life with fluid boundaries and a satisfactory resolution. - by Anne Morley-Priestman Related Content Back to Southeast Homepage
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