Dulwich Players’ director Jane Jones brings “Ladies’ Day” to Dulwich.
In 2005, Ascot Racecourse was closed for redevelopment so the Royal Ascot meeting decamped north to York for the year. Amanda Whittington has used this event as the backdrop for Ladies’ Day, her earthy comedy about four fish-factory workers from Hull who treat themselves to a day out at the races. Pearl, who is celebrating her imminent retirement, has a particular reason to be there. The mouthy Shelley is hoping to be “discovered”, Jan is perpetually anxious and Linda just tags along with the rest.
I chose this play for our latest production basically because it makes me laugh and I feel we all need a bit of cheering up in February – the gloomiest month of the year. I’ve never seen Ladies’ Day performed, so it’s a bit of an unknown quantity but from just reading the script I knew I wanted to stage it. What I love about the play is the banter between these women, four very different characters at different stages of their lives who are brought together through work.
They think they know each other very well, and on a day-to-day level they do, but there are some things they keep to themselves, and in the course of their day out the confessions come thick and fast. There are not many similarities between Hull and Dulwich, but some of these ladies’ predicaments may still strike a chord with our audiences. After all, how well do you know the people you work with or see every day? They probably have their secrets too, their mistakes, regrets and ambitions that are only revealed when they get drunk at the Christmas party.
Another reason this play appealed to me is that it offers four equally-long parts for women, quite a rarity, so I can make good use of the plentiful female talent within the Players. A particular challenge for us Southerners is the accent. The Hull accent is a very distinctive one and, instead of sending my cast to the Humber Estuary for a total immersion course, we have aimed at a generic Northern accent, somewhere east of the Pennines, to avoid mangling too many vowels.
So far the cast are doing a great job of developing their characters and, more importantly, enjoying themselves. It’s not very appealing to leave the warmth of your home on these chilly winter evenings to rehearse, so you have to love doing it and we hope the audiences will enjoy the end result too.
This amateur production of Ladies’ Day by Amanda Whittington, by arrangement with Nick Hern Books, is playing at the Edward Alleyn Theatre, Dulwich College SE21 7LD at 8pm on Thu-Sat, 21 to 23 February 2013. For more details: http://www.dulwichplayers.org/.
Tickets £8 in advance from the Box Office: Tel. 07582 002 559, Email: Boxoffice@dulwichplayers.org or the Art Stationers, Dulwich Village. Also available at £10 on the door.
Supporting Athol House, Leonard Cheshire Disability.