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Westacre Theatre performed September in the Rain and reviewer Jenny Beake said: “It were alright.”





REVIEW: September in the Rain, by John Godber performed at Westacre Theatre

The playwright John Godber formed Hull Truck Theatre Company, and as I grew up in Hull, his plays resonate with me.

In Hull, the most exciting and happiest events, from your wedding to winning a Nobel prize, were described as ‘it were alright’

Karen Bates and Lee Johnson in Westacre Theatre's September in the Rain by John Godber
Karen Bates and Lee Johnson in Westacre Theatre's September in the Rain by John Godber

At university I performed in another of Godber’s plays, Teechers, where three actors play central characters and also act out the parts of ensemble cast.

September in the Rain is not dissimilar to Godber’s theatrical technique in Teechers, with the husband and wife, played by Westacre Theatre actors Karen Bates and Lee Johnson, also acting out the characters they meet as they holiday to Blackpool.

The long-suffering husband and wife Jack and Liz were played with skill by the actors as they journey to their annual holiday destination where the past and present are intertwined.

Karen Bates and Lee Johnson played husband and wife Jack and Liz
Karen Bates and Lee Johnson played husband and wife Jack and Liz

Lee Johnson got some great laughs with his downplay of the downtrodden husband with those exact words I described and delivered ‘It were alright’ with lovely timing.

Johnson’s comedy timing was great, with his trousers rolled up and his knotted hanky on his head as his wife insisted on finding ‘soft sand’ to sit in and as the temperature in Blackpool rose, he almost undid the top button of his shirt.

Godber’s play switches between different characters and also in time transitions between the past and present.

Karen Bates transitions from her main character into a little girl, shown here petting her donkey
Karen Bates transitions from her main character into a little girl, shown here petting her donkey

So the audience are seeing the couple as they honeymoon in the early part of their lives, to the present day, staying together through thick and thin as they spend September in the Rain.

Karen Bates played some lovely characters, particularly as she transitioned into a small girl singing at the talent contest.

She drew great laughs from the audience as the small girl, wanting to ride on a particularly flea ridden donkey, raising chuckles and snorts from the audience.

The donkey was a box which was part of the set which she stroked and petted in an imaginary way.

Equally Lee Johnson played the entertainer in the scene making it a highlight of the show.

Character transitions were shown with changes of shoes or costume, and though sometimes it was tricky to work out, the actors really gave their all in this performance.

It was directed by Cordelia Monsey with set design by Graham Barnes and Alice Bright on sound design and operation.

A member of the audience who had travelled from Swaffham described it as ‘well acted.’

Godber’s spotlight on language in September in the Rain and relationships hails the ordinary Northern bloke and housewife.

On the surface they bicker but beneath that are issues such as having children and making the decision to stay married as Karen struggles with a lack of affection from her husband.

But by the end of the play they hold hands in a touching moment, rekindling their solidarity through a dance and sing together.

Godber, who was awarded an OBE, wrote the play based on his own experiences of his grandparents, a Yorkshire miner and his long-suffering wife.

He describes the play as autobiographical in a sense but based on the myths of his childhood.

To describe Westacre Theatre’s production of September in the Rain in the good sense, and the words that sum up so much about my own Hull childhood and my love of Godber as a playwright:

“It were alright.”

The play continues its run at Westacre Theatre until May 26 at 7:30pm; and May 13 and 27 at 3pm and 7:30pm.

Tickets for adults are £16 and under 16s are £10.

There is pre-show dining available to order and served from 6.15pm.

Reviewed by Jenny Beake



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