Saddleworth Players

The cast and crew of A Passionate Woman

Go you passionate Players

I haven’t experienced the range of emotions that I felt when I watched Saddleworth Players' performance of Key Mellor’s “A Passionate Woman”. I laughed out loud, and then the next minute was stunned into a silence by the thought-provoking insight into the tensions of a secret family life.

The community of cast and crew at Saddleworth players took Kay Mellor’s script and created a performance that gripped the audience as soon as they entered the auditorium, through to when Betty flew off in her balloon.

Sue Radcliffe owned the stage as Betty, a passionate woman who had transferred the passion for her young lover Craze – played by Shane Barry, debuting on stage at Millgate Arts Centre – to her son at the exclusion of her husband. Sue paced the first act well, developing the character of Betty, as a loving mother and passionate lover. Jon Comyn-Platt was the uptight and introspective husband and father who at first is just plain annoying, you then discover he had been excluded from the mother–son relationship and understand his character more. Although he tries, he just can’t be really passionate.

Shane was credible as the philandering Polish lover ghost; at first attractive, but as you get to know Craze you began to dislike his philandering ways and smooth words. Dominic Peberdy plays Betty’s son cuddled by his mother, wanting to pull away, but caught between the pull of his old love and new love he had eventually decided to marry at 38.

Emma Sykes and Lulu Mann made their debuts on stage at Saddleworth Players at the end as Jo, the bride. As Betty retires to the roof for the second act, the flip between comic genius and heart-wrenching reality made us laugh and cry. The final “Fly Away” for our passionate woman was a fitting denouement where Betty really can’t cope with everything that life threw at her. How many of us have wanted to fly away like that?

The cast were helped with some clever direction by Melvyn Bates, and a well-designed and built set, by Keith Begley, Jan Wieringa and Verity Mann, which created a multi-dimensional attic and roof that allowed free-flowing movement across the stage, and didn’t require a two-minute blackout and destruction of the atmosphere. The set was dressed with props that felt like they came out of every attic in Saddleworth by Helen Tinker and Charlotte Coleman. This was Helen’s first time leading on props and she created a believable attic down to the dust! The strength of the set created a technically difficult show to light but David Plowright seemed to make it look very simple (which we all know is very hard). Luke Settle led the design of the sound and also coached Emma Sykes and Jake Scott who as doing A-level Drama and eventually were running around the box like seasoned professionals; so much so that they were doing tours of the theatre for other A level and GCSE students by end of week.

Thanks as well to the front of house teams on box office, bar and coffee (ice creams in the interval and drinks before as part of the theatre aren’t they) we’ll hear from the cast and crew on their reflections of the show, but all this couldn’t happen without the audience.

Andrew Mann, Dec 9, 2015