Ladies Day

Aug 11 2022 | By More

★★★★☆     Wholehearted

Inverleith St Serf’s Church Centre (venue 83): Sat 6 – Sat 20 Aug 2022
Review by Gwen M. Dolan

The heartfelt welcome as you arrive at Inverleith St Serf’s Church Centre sets the spirit of this warm, earnest production of Amanda Whittington’s Ladies Day by Leitheatre.

The play follows Pearl, Jan, Shelley and Linda; brought together through a menial job but all with different aspirations, opinions, dreams and judgements.They all share a fondness for each other, though, that develops as the tale unfolds.

Alison Kennedy, Laura Thomson, Jeanne Robertson and Susan Duffy. Pic: Marion Donohoe.

The production opens with the four women, of varying ages, working together in a fish factory. Camaraderie sparks the opening scene and the connection between them is immediately personable.

The foursome then embark on a trip to ‘Ladies Day’ at Ascot. Stripping themselves of their work uniform aprons and blue plastic shoes in a choreographed showgirl routine, it falls a bit flat as the music is too quiet – but this does not retract from the energy on stage. And the girls owned it.

Set in Hull and York in 2005, the actors all have a stab at the colloquial accent and they all deliver exceedingly well. The narrative flows and there is a realistic tone to the chatter, which is humorous and sincere.

Pearl, played with great comedic timing by Alison Kennedy, delivers a punchy character full of wit, cynicism. Jan comes across as the perfect mother, happy with her single life but a bit of a moan too. Susan Duffy develops the character effectively and plays a drunk Jan surprisingly truthfully and hilariously.

Sean Adrian, Alison Kennedy, Susan Duffy, Laura Thomson and Jeanne Robertson. Pic: Marion Donohoe.

Laura Thomson, as the wanna be celebrity Shelley, plays a superficial character on the surface but as the layers peel back, a different side to Shelley is apparent. The naivety of Jeanne Robertson’s Linda is charming and endearing. Happy with the simplistic side of life, she is a complete contrast to Shelley.

Director Philip Wilson successfully utilises some finer details, such as the actors eating real sandwiches and drinking actual liquid from champagne glasses. Naturalistic and truthful performances bring the production together delightfully.

At Ascot, Jim McCormack TV pundit (based on a well known racing TV personality!) is portrayed as a regular older man until the ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ joke. Alan Jeffreys’ creepiness could have been stronger to really impact the relationship between him and Shelley. He does, however, give a fascinating rendition of Tic-Tac – the secret racetrack language, using hand signals to convey odds.

The rest of the cast have fairly small roles but each one delivers with purpose and notably stays in character when not the focus of the scene. David Rennie’s Irish accent as Patrick the Jockey is a little dubious at times but the spark between him and Linda is adorable.

Unfortunately the script is predictable. The build up to the reveal of Barry is underwhelming. John Macaskill doesn’t project as well as other cast members and his pace slowed what could have been an electric scene.

Ladies Day promises an emotional journey with dark secrets revealed. Ending on a high, it leaves with a glow and a sense of true friendship. A convincing production with an enormous amount of commitment from all.

Running time: Two hours 15 minutes (with one interval)
Inverleith St Serf’s Church Centre (Main Hall), 1A Clark Road EH5 3BD (Venue 83)
Saturday 6 – Saturday 20 August 2022
Weekday evenings: 19:30. Sats:14:30 (no perfs Suns).
Tickets and details: Book here.

Sammi Watson, Cara King, Alan Jeffreys, Alison Kennedy, Susan Duffy, Jeanne Robertson and Laura Thomson. Pic: Marion Donohoe.


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