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A Passionate Woman – Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford

Writer: Kay Mellor

Director: Paul Milton

Reviewer: Steve Turner

It’s her son’s wedding day so where else would you expect to find the mother of the groom than in her attic ‘tidying up’. Betty (Liza Goddard) is clearly not overjoyed at the prospect of losing her son to a new bride and, seemingly worse, him moving to Milton Keynes. It’s an unlikely premise for a play, however Kay Mellor’s writing and the vibrant acting from the cast ensure that it is the characters that are the focus, the attic they find themselves in a backdrop for the drama that ensues.

Goddard is particularly engaging as Betty, reflecting on a life that might have been, thinking of the life she will now have with only her somewhat bellicose husband for company, and wistfully dreaming of a past lover. She gives a delightful, scene setting monologue to open the play, delivering some marvellously downbeat lines whilst trying to make them sound positive. The extent of her exotic dreams nowadays ends at the cheese counter at the local Asda, well, “they do have some cheeses that she’s never heard of.”

Russell Dixon encapsulates the well-meaning but misguided husband Donald. Never far from anger but always sure that his way is the right way, he tries to explain how he attempted to provide for everyone at a sacrifice to himself. Both the script and Dixon’s acting lead us almost to the point of feeling sympathy for him, only to have it taken away by another ill-judged action or remark.

Anthony Eden as son Mark is quite perplexed by everything. He can’t understand why his mother is refusing to come out of the attic and go to the wedding, he can’t understand why his father doesn’t think that he treated his wife badly when he was still a child, he also can’t seem to quite make up his mind if the ceremony should go ahead without his mother. Quite a lot to contend with on your wedding day!

Not quite a tragedy, although not without sadness, not quite a farce, although there are certainly one or two farcical moments, this is a well-observed drama exploring the way two people have come to terms with their lives and their marriage whilst both viewing it quite differently. Betty imagining that life will end when her son leaves, Donald looking forward to the freedom this will give him.

The ending is unexpected and perhaps a little out of kilter with what has gone before but it does at least suggest that Betty will find her happiness somehow.

Runs until 18 March 2017 | Image: Contributed

Writer: Kay Mellor Director: Paul Milton Reviewer: Steve Turner It’s her son’s wedding day so where else would you expect to find the mother of the groom than in her attic ‘tidying up’. Betty (Liza Goddard) is clearly not overjoyed at the prospect of losing her son to a new bride and, seemingly worse, him moving to Milton Keynes. It’s an unlikely premise for a play, however Kay Mellor’s writing and the vibrant acting from the cast ensure that it is the characters that are the focus, the attic they find themselves in a backdrop for the drama that ensues.…

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