Theatre Review - Blackburn Drama Club presents Ladies Day, the Thwaites Empire Theatre

Ladies Day – Blackburn Drama Club - Thwaites Empire Theatre - Thursday 30th April 2015

Ladies Day – Blackburn Drama Club - Thwaites Empire Theatre - Thursday 30th April 2015 - Credit: Archant

Rob Gemmell reviews the Blackburn Drama Club production of Ladies Day at the Thwaites Empire Theatre on Thursday 30th April 2015

The 2005 Royal Ascot race was famously held in York after the Ascot racecourse was closed for redevelopment and this is the theme of Amanda Whittington’s play about four female fish factory workers who one day decided to celebrate their friends “retirement” by going to York for Ladies Day.

Linda, Jan, Shelley and Pearl are colleagues and, in some respects, friends. Life can often be dull for the quartet until one day they decide to go to York for Ladies Day. Fortune finds the four ladies as they discover tickets to enable themselves entry into the event and the friends slowly start to discover more about each other as the day goes by and the champagne gets flowing.

Amanda Whittington’s light-hearted and often deeply meaningful play is set on the backdrop of a Tony Christie soundtrack, but often draws on the theme of friendship and dreams. Whittington’s writing allows for a thoroughly entertaining and funny story to present itself to the sell-out crowd at the Thwaites Empire Theatre, but the real power of her work is in the final third of the second act with the play taking a twist in a truly moving piece.

Director Therese Ball has been gifted with a wonderful cast for our four female leads who brought the story to life with wonderful performances. Each of the characters had a hidden agenda and were similar in characteristics, but it was the beauty in the performances that really allowed the individualities to shine and at the same time work wonderfully as an ensemble leaving us really believing the realism of the story. Neely Jillings played Linda, the Tony Christie Fan Club Member who is often very shy and retiring. Neely played the character brilliantly with the added uncertainty and timid nature of the role executed perfectly. Jacqui Mooney was the warm and caring Jan, who acted as peacekeeper at lot of the time. Her experience and ability allowed her to divulge into the character to perform the role beautifully.

Anita Shaw was Shelley, the attention-seeking, wannabe popular woman who deep down is very insecure opting to shy away from her problems. Complete with flawless Liverpudlian accent, this was possibly one of her best performances I have seen of hers yet. Lastly was Pearl played by Shirley Watson, the fun loving and also caring friend who claims she is not retiring, but merely taking a break from work. Watson’s skill and diversity allowed her to transform the character throughout leaving us holding back tears in one of the play’s poignant moments. The cast of ladies worked effectively well together and the versatility of their acting transformed faultlessly throughout the play as the performances got better. The dialogue flowed effortlessly with confidence making it hard to believe it had been scripted in the first place.

Therese Bell has crafted and gelled a well-executed piece of theatre together with a blend of the light and dark sides of the story bonding together well. The theme of togetherness and friendship was highlighted successfully not only in the direction, but the performances of the cast. The female cast were supported in strength from the males Rob Trethewey, Jonathon Mallinson, Dave Batterby, Elliot McNulty and Eric Nolan, but even so, this truly was the Ladies day.

The play continues up to and including Saturday 2nd May at 19:30pm. For more information of the theatre please visit the website at @RobGemmell1