As the set was struck and the dust began to settle over the stage once more, we reflect on what has been such a welcome return of TADS to this village, both for 17 cast members, 11 crew, an army of volunteers and the 270 wonderful audience members who laughed, cried, gasped and heckled their way through three performances of When We Are Married over the last weekend.
Alison Pritchard-Dodd is a name the rolls off the tongue of most Tattenhallians. For 50 weeks of the year her name is synonymous with good food, coffee and company. But for the other two weeks, this beautiful woman is associated with putting on the most wonderful of theatrical productions. She is a lady who imparts her passion for theatre onto all her players, who take to the stage full of the confidence and delight that she exudes upon the cast.
When We Are Married takes place in the Helliwell's country house in Clecklewyke, where three happy couples gather to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Joe Helliwell, Albert Parker and Herbert Soppit (played by Evans, Norrie and Gardiner)- the three big men at chapel -- are proud, haughty and ruled by their wives, Maria Helliwell (Lisa Ford), Annie Parker (Julia Bona) and Clara Soppit (Alison P-D), although they wouldn't like to admit it.
Maria and Joe appear to be the most sane of the three couples, inviting their friends to their happy home for their anniversary. Annie Parker is the long suffering wife of Albert Parker, and Herbert Soppit is the long suffering husband of Clara Soppit. Dave Evans portrayal of Joe Helliwell brought back memories of Laurence Olivier's portrayal of Hamlet at the Old Vic. Dashingly handsome, yet tormented beyond the realms of the stage; a journey of madness and revenge, Evans brought one member of the audience to their knees. Said audience member remarked afterwards "I didn't know I was capable of these kinds of feelings. Evans has not only taken my breath away and blown my socks off, but he's also restored my hope for a brighter future, a future in which we can all share the love that acting brings to the common man".
Gerald Ford, the chapel organist, has come up all the way from 'the South' and has upset the big men at chapel with his dalliances with females, and has been seen out and about from Morecambe to Cleckley Woods, with said females. One particular female -- Nancy (Whittingham) -- is the niece of Mr. Helliwell, and her coquettish grin is too much for Forbes to resist, and they are hanky pankying right under the Helliwell's noses.
Unfortunately for the three men, Ford has some shocking news. Due to a clerical blunder, they're not actually married. This bombshell opens up several cans of worms, ranging from mishaps and mayhem to domestic abuse and ladies of the night.
The constant toing and froing of maid and charwoman Ruby (Catherine Bryant) and Mrs. Northrop (Tiz Corcoran) announcing the next visitor to the Helliwell's residence was the glue that held this masterpiece together, as with every visitor came another compelling story, another exasperated sigh, another throaty guffaw and another notch on the bedpost of the TADS back catalogue.
Throw in a lecherous parson (Woollard) who's mad, bad, and rad, several beeish reporters, the Mayoress with the fish slices, and we have ourselves a period romp for the ages.
Enter Lottie Grady (TADS debutante Sue Carver) who took great delight in tormenting the three wives, suggesting that she could have had her way with any one of their husbands, until she settles upon Henry Ormonroyd (admirably played by Turner as an 11th hour stand in), a photographer who spends the play getting progressively drunker and drunker. Just before he loses all faculties, he reveals that the three couples are in fact married after all. Relief/frustration/joy/resignation/cheer erupts, and we can all go home happy, or at least, satisfied that live theatre is back, and TADS lives on.
TADS Dates for your diary -
TADS Quiz night -- Friday 24th June 2022
Next Production Nov 2022
Long awaited Panto Spring 2023