Ladies Unleashed

Date 14th May 2024
Society The Green Room Theatre, Wilmslow
Venue The Green Room Theatre, Wilmslow
Type of Production Play
Director Victor Hassan
Written By Amanda Whittington

Report

Author: Steph Niland

Most of the play is set on Holy Island, where a group of 3 friends have gathered for a hen do, (not a hen do) and a wedding, (not a big day). The journey to the island is fraught with mishaps and train delays but they eventually reach their accommodation only to find that it is double booked, and they wind up having to spend the night under the stars. They’re joined by a fourth friend, unexpectedly, who has supposedly travelled from down under to be there on her friend’s big day. The second plot, which runs in tandem alongside the modern story, is the tale of two young herring girls and their dreams and aspirations and plans to escape the island and way of life they seemed to be getting trapped in.

It is clear, almost from the off, that the plot is somehow implausible and somewhat predictable. It was quite obvious that the friends would have a falling out and then make up for a ‘happy’ ending, or at least a resolved ending and other than the period subplot threaded through, the play was quite uneventful and ultimately ended with a series of monologues explaining the backstory of each character and why they may be behaving the way they were. It has a pretty formulaic structure, that doesn’t seem to go anywhere.

That being said, Victor Hassan and the cast worked every ounce of the material they had to hand. It would have been forgivable if the director would have tried to force extra life into the piece, or ask for over acting or over playing of the comedic lines, but what Victor did was use the content and action to ensure that the warmth and relationship development, not entirely prevalent in the script, were present and convincing on the stage. The use of the performance area, the entrances and exits, despite the ethereal “time travel” element, worked beautifully. We understood when action was taking place in different locations, even though they were all utilising the same space.

The set design, despite the fact that it must have taken some painting, which was appreciated, the dry-stone wall and ocean backdrop, was unfussy and so allowed the action to flow. The projection use and soundscape added ambience and helped establish place and time. Well done Jacque Bilsborough and Jane Kirby and the backstage team and Mark Seyler and John Coghlan on tech.

The ladies unleashed on the script were a talented team. Each brought their own set of skills to the piece, which created interest and a layered feel to the group scenes.

Cherrill Wyche played Pearl with a matriarchal grace and her reactive facial and physical expressions were well placed and added comedic and dramatic effect in equal measure. She had a grounding aura that complemented the other actors’ portrayals well.

The next hen party invite we meet is Jan, aptly played by Sarah Priestly, whose sardonic delivery was wholly appropriate for the character and even when she let her guard down, the more open Jan was still consistent and natural in the persona she had created. Hers was a more modern comedy which was fitting for the script and the slap was impressive and believable, as was the turmoil of emotions Jan was conveying. Well done!

The gifted Lorna Kong played the hen, Linda, with warmth and sincerity and also an astute perception and observation of comedy which was perfect in the role. The opening scene in the train station completely set the stall out for the character and Lorna was unwavering in the portrayal. Linda doesn’t get her monologue moment but there was a short, tender phone call between her and her betrothed that allowed Lorna to showcase her naturalism further. Congrats!

Shelly, the unexpected guest, was played with gusto by Carys Jones. Carys always delivers an infectious energy and Shelly was no exception. She injected a fun spirit and gumption into every scene she graced. It worked well - to feel the dynamics shift when she arrived was commendable and appropriate and we could tell there was a sad or upsetting undercurrent running beneath the leopard print, bubbly surface.

The two young ladies from 1895, who coexisted alongside the modern foursome were Daisy and Mabel, played by Jess Trimble and Madeleine Healey. (Having their photos in black and white in the programme was a nice touch!) These two fine actresses gave strong renditions and the friendship they forged through the contrasting personalities was sincere and authentic. The moments of song, that could be rendered awkward when seemingly coming from nowhere, were convincing and played with utter conviction. Jess was endearing as Daisy, a textured performance – Daisy was inexperienced yet confident, naïve yet insightful. Well done. Madeleine sparkled as the bold Mabel, she captivated and held the audience in a firm yet tender grasp throughout. The audience was completely rooting for both of these ladies.

To sum up, the somewhat lacking in depth material of the play was made rich by the telling, the acting, the directorial decisions and the appropriate use of tech. One is still left thinking…what was it all for? No real revelations or journeys occurred, but the cast and creatives did more than enough to ensure we were entertained.