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September in the Rain (tour)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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John Thomson and Claire Sweeney
Robert Day
Perhaps because – as his programme note makes clear – John Godber based "September in the Rain" on his own childhood memories as well as his grandparents' tales, it's one of the most immediately human of all his plays. He has directed this new touring production with Claire Sweeney playing Liz and John Thomson her husband Jack.

Designers Pip Leckenby (set and costumes) and Matt Eagland (lighting) do very well by the production. Leckenby's contribution sets time and place to perfection as the chalk-and-cheese couple experience a succession of Blackpool holidays first by bus and later by the car which is Jack's pride and joy but somewhat less appreciated by his wife and (later on) his family.

I've always thought of "September in the Rain" as being akin to a duet for two equally balanced soloists. The trouble with this production is that, although Sweeney is pitch-perfect as Liz, Thomson seems unable to stop himself being a stand-up comedian. He gives the impression that we should all be concentrating on Thomson, not on Jack.

It's a pity, because otherwise this 1983 piece of nostalgia is well worth its revival. At one level the two characters and the others they meet – the boarding-house landlady, an irate lorry driver among them – not to mention the holiday pleasures as well as mishaps which they encounter, are stereotypical. But Liz in particular, with her frustration at what might be hovering just on the outside of her perception, is more than that. She's a real human being.