"sensitively directed by Jack Gamble"
by Aline Waites for remotegoat on 22/01/19

Lawrence's play was first performed in the studio at the Arcola and it was stunning, passionate , and a lesson in past history. Here was a world we never see any more. Set in a small town between Nottingham and Derby - where the author grew up.

Played in the local dialect, there is a glossary in the programme. It is hardly necessary. The dialogue written by a master of words mostly speaks for itself as the actors make the meanings so clear. .Bernard Shaw applauded the work " I wish I could write such dialogue " he remarked.

It was never performed during Lawrence's lifetime but, but it paints what feels like an accurate picture of the mining community in the time of the colliers strike. Mrs Gascoyne is the mother of two young men who work in the pits. Joe has damaged himself and wears a sling. Luther who is recently married to Minnie, an upwardly mobile young woman from Manchester, is going to be in trouble. The Gascoyne's neighbour Mrs Purdy (Tessa Bell-Briggs), pays a visit to tell Mrs Gascoyne that her daughter, Bertha is pregnant by him. Mrs Purdy wants forty pounds to heal her daughter's broken heart and take care of her child. Both the women think that Minnie should pay the money. She has a hundred pounds as a legacy from a relative and of course, as she is married to Luther, the money belongs to both of them
Sadly the marriage of Luther and Minnie is in trouble already. Minnie is not happy to be merely a housewife playing nursemaid to her husband and Luther doesn't think she loves him enough to take care of him as a wife should. Minnie realises that both the boys have been dominated by their mother who is a power house and her sons, unable to move without their mother's approval, are happy only when they are in the pit or the pub making jokes with each other.

I have to admit that I found it more successful in the intimate atmosphere of the studio. It had been an emotional experience to be right there with the cast - almost part of the family.

However no one could doubt the effectiveness of this production which is met by an ecstatic audience. The dialogue between the unhappy married couple is witty and perfect and the performances of Matthew Barker and Ellie Nunn are outstanding. Matthew Biddulph is the younger son and attractive as he flirts happily with Minnie..But of course, the central meaning of he play is brought out when the wonderful Veronica Roberts as the mother and the daughter in law have their confrontation.

Lawrence has written an early feminist play with great female roles in a play where the women rule and the men just do as they are told.

Excellently and sensitively directed by Jack Gamble. With an all purpose kitchen setting by Louie Whitemore and some good lighting by Geoff Hense.

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