Theatre Review: ‘The passionate woman’ at the Northcott, by Gerry Farrell-Morrish
My theatre buddy Gerry popped along to the Northcott (without me this time) to see Kay Mellor’s ‘The Passionate woman’ and here’s what she thought of it..
Mellor explains that writing for television gives total freedom to write about as many characters as you wish, go where you want with them and the storyline. But writing for stage is much harder, you have to be more disciplined because you have your audience in one place watching the play.
“It’s a different kind of reality for stage than TV”
Kay Mellor certainly captured the audience with her play The Passionate Woman. Based on her mother’s personal experience of lost love and what could have been, it is a wistful, romantic, cleverly written, funny play.
The play is set in the loft of Betty’s (Liza Goddard) house. It’s 10am on a Saturday morning, Betty is sitting thinking about the past. She’s dressed in her ‘mother of the groom’ suit and hat for the wedding of her son Mark (Antony Eden), but she is finding it hard to accept that he is leaving home to get married. She can’t bring herself to be downstairs amongst all the excitement of family arriving for the event and her husband Donald (Russell Dixon) fussing about. Betty is happily rummaging around in her loft which is full of memories, old records, photo albums, hidden letters etc. It’s full of nostalgia.
She’s reminiscing about times gone by, when she’s joined by Mark, he is trying to understand why, today of all days, she feels the need to go through ‘stuff’ in the loft. He’s desperately trying to encourage her to come downstairs. He’s slightly nervous now as it’s only a couple of hours to his wedding to Jo (Emma Nairne-Thomas).
Betty is adamant she is not going downstairs and starts to talk about when she was first married to Donald. She puts on a Clodagh Rogers record, entitled Whatever happened to her and she starts to dance. A ghostly figure of a man appears from behind Betty, he takes her in his arms and they dance slowly together. It’s the ghost of her polish lover, Craze (Hasan Dixon) from years ago. She begins to talk to Craze. Mark who obviously cannot see Craze is now very worried as his mother is babbling on about the past. Her conversation with the ghost of Craze coincides with conversation with Mark. This is so cleverly done that it’s very funny to watch.
The play continues on the roof of the house which is really scary for Betty’s son and husband. Neither like heights and think that she’s being ridiculous. Nothing they can do or say will get her to come down. Craze is also on the roof chatting happily with Betty who sits calmly on the rooftop discussing how she feels, how she spent all her time and love on Mark and now he is leaving to get married. She talks about how she knew she wasn’t Craze’s only love back then. You sense that she’s scared of what lies ahead once Mark leaves, she really isn’t looking forward to the future, with just her and Donald. Donald has enough and calls the fire brigade to get her down.
The venue, the auditorium in the Northcott theatre was perfect for this play, it was intimate and you felt you were in the loft reminiscing with Betty.
It was the story of marriage and of the unfulfilled life of a woman that had not followed her dreams, had loved someone and let them go.
“Marriage is not all sex, Ovaltine and roses you know, sometimes it’s hanging on in there when you know you’re not wanted” (Donald)
About the author
Gerry Farrell-Morrish also moved from Croydon to Exeter in 2015, she settled in a village just outside with her hubby (who is from Exeter) and two children. She has found a love for the countryside and writes about theatre and fun.Band of Gold, Clodagh Rogers, comedy, Exeter, Fat Friends, In the Club, Kay Mellor, liza goddard, northcott theatre, The Passionate Woman, The Syndicate., Theatre