Posts Tagged ‘Martha Godber’

John Godber’s plays for his then company Hull Truck Theatre were a staple diet of the Edinburgh Fringe for some time from the late 80’s, sometimes two or three a year. For me, it started with Bouncers, the first in a series of four-handlers that were effectively interwoven monologues, continuing with Teechers and Shakers, plus plays that blended comedy with social comment, plays about real people, a slice of humanity on stage. I’ve seen around a dozen of them.

A weekend in Scarborough provide the opportunity to see his new work for The John Godber Company, resident at Theatre Royal Wakefield, and to go to Stephen Joseph Theatre, on my list of regional theatrical powerhouses to be visited – appropriate considering Godber is the UK’s third most performed playwright and the the Stephen Joseph Theatre has premiered all of the plays of the second, Alan Acykbourn (Will remains No.1, of course). This is very much a family affair, with Godber’s wife Jane Thornton and his daughter Martha the other two actors and Elizabeth Godber the stage manager. Godber writes, directs and acts.

It’s set in a Yorkshire seaside town, Sunny Side, where Barney, his wife Tina and daughter Cath run a small hotel. At a quiet time, booking wise, Tina invites her brother Graham and his wife to stay as hotel guests. Graham has long moved on from Sunny Side and the play centres around how some of us leave home and lose sight of, and connection to, where we come from. The contrast between the run down hometown and its upwardly mobile former resident forms the crux of both the comedy and the social message. It’s a multi-layered piece which is both entertaining and thought provoking, and it clearly resonated with the local audience of a real seaside town, and with me, a Welsh miner’s son who left home at eighteen.

The three actors play both those who stayed and those who’ve moved on, as well as other characters like hotel guests. It unfolds in a series of short scenes between the two couples separately, which could have been a bit ‘staccato’ but flowed well, with a soundtrack to die for of well known pop songs of Barney / Graham’s youth. It has great feel-good warmth and I thoroughly enjoyed being reacquainted with this prolific, very talented and populist theatre-maker.

Catch it on tour in Halifax, Oldham, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Hull.

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