Salisbury Playhouse reopens its doors with September in the Rain by John Godber. Liz (Nicola Sloane) and Jack Munroe (Ian Kelsey) fondly reflect with love and humour their holiday memoirs spanning thirty years of annual visits in September to the seaside town Blackpool. The couple looks back on the good and bad times they have had together as a family as well as on their own.
Jack is a man of few words much of the time and shares snippets of his bleak working life in the mines. The lack of conversation leaves Liz frustrated with him at times and they frequently break out into squabbling. One of her main upsets are bought about by his lack of public affection and she certainly knows the right buttons to push to make him jealous and allow her to know he still cares.
Kelsey and Sloane’s on stage relationship is a reflection of the off-stage chemistry I saw when I interviewed the couple during their rehearsals. An intimate two-handed show such as this requires two actors who have a close working rapport such as these two do to bring the layered text to life believably on stage.
Sloanes performance in one of the couple’s memories in which she takes on the role of their daughter Pamela in a holiday talent competition is superb. From the thumb sucking, nervous child poses, to the innocent younger voice alongside her mannerisms and behaviour give an incredibly plausible portrayal of their daughter.
The set built by Tim Reed and Daniel Gent provides a nostalgic setting for the couple’s trip down “holiday memory road” complete with a run-down looking bench, which doubles as a bed and two sets of stone steps familiar to seaside towns. Their attention to detail is realistic and outstanding. Which has been completed by set painters Rod Holt and Sally Holt.
Director and Salisbury Playhouse Artistic Director Gareth Machin certainly has chosen the perfect play for reopening the Playhouse in September. A superb and moving start to their long-awaited opening season.
On occasions like these, I am reminded as to why I enjoy going to live Theatre. Their performances are absorbing and I felt a slight pang of sadness when the play ended. I thoroughly enjoyed watching their holiday stories. It reminded me of being a child and shown old family holiday photographs by grandparents as they reminisce over days gone by.
For tickets and more information about September in the Rain please use the link below. It’s playing from 16th September until the 9th October 2021.
Photo credit- The Other Richard.