A tale of life, love and laughter lived up to its advance billing, as Tattenhall Amateur Dramatic Society once again provided a thrilling night of excitement and high emotion as Ladies' Day at the Races came to the Barbour Institute.
Originally performed by the Hull Truck Theatre Company in 2005, Ladies' Day written by Amanda Whittingham, follows the fortunes of the fish-filleting foursome of Shelley, Pearl, Jan and Linda as they seek thrills and spills at Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot in the year that it was relocated to York.
Shelley, expertly played by Alison Pritchard who also directed, boldly led the girls from the start with a superbly crafted mix of brashness, attitude and finally, unexpected vulnerability.
Shelley's swagger was the polar opposite of the endearing naivety of her work colleague and friend, Linda, portrayed exquisitely by Catherine Bryant, her words and subtle expressions compelling us all to tenderly guide her through the trials and tribulations of Race Day.
Tiz Corcoran as Jan, eased effortlessly into her part, helped not least by playing the same role in a recent performance in Guilden Sutton, and by her strong personal connection with the dialect and culture of the City of Hull, the setting for the girls' workplace.
The final member of this entertaining foursome was Pearl, played by Julia Bona, presenting a gentle and empathetic portrayal of extra-marital love played against a set of impossible rules and ending ultimately in a chilling after-death dance with her lover.
The play however was never allowed to dwell too long on moments of sadness and tragedy; fun, happiness and laughter were always likely to prevail, as the girls' lives quickly and unexpectedly turn upside down by a surprise jackpot win on the horses.
Although the play has male characters, it was written to allow one actor to perform all 6 characters. The Director's decision to share the parts across five different actors allowed each of them to offer a depth and intensity to the sometimes boisterous, but often respectful, relationships between men and women at work and at play. Nick James as the Irish jockey Patrick, Rob Turner as Joe and Barry, Mike Woollard as Jim McCormack, Roger Morris as Kevin and Ron Dodd (on his TADs debut) as Fred, all put in excellent performances, illustrating the depth of talent that continues to develop at this thriving local Group.
This performance will be remembered not only for its power in contrasting the noise, excitement and passion of Race Day with the quieter thoughtfulness of personal relationships, but also for the laughter that can be generated when amateur dramatics in the community is so skilfully delivered.