DramaFeaturedNorth East & YorkshireReview

Gladys: A Beverley Love Story – East Riding Theatre, Beverley

Reviewer: Christopher Holmes

Writer: Jane Mclauchlan

Director: Mike Friend and Adrian Rawlins

Gladys and Alfie lead ordinary lives. Believable and relatable, they make idle chit chat glibly, as couples do, as if they had all the time in the world. The start of the play is mundane, the writing somewhat hum-drum and one wonders where this story is going. It’s only as the drama plays out you realise this is the intention. Jane Mclauchlan writes a brilliant and deeply moving play, the character studies being at the centre of the action. With solid support from Andrew Dunn and Candida Gubbins, the real star player here is Jacqueline Naylor who brings a sense of realism to Gladys with a gritty and understated performance. Utterly endearing and totally watchable.

Simply staged yet beautifully handled by Mike Friend and co-directed by Adrian Rawlins, this bitter sweet love story, set in the beautiful humble market town of Beverley, is deeply moving and brimming with Yorkshire charm. They even use projections of Beverley town from years gone by as a backdrop. Each scene broken up by a 60s soundtrack – perhaps some of Alfie and Gladys’ favourite songs.

The audience, held by the normality of the piece (with moments where you could hear a pin drop), are fully engrossed and invested in the story. It’s really rather slow to start until one realises this is exactly the play’s purpose. Gladys and Alfie have been married for 45 years they are so used to each other’s company – they have all the time in the world. The scenes depict them doing the big shop, discussing what they’ll eat from the local café and trying to solve one of Gladys’ beloved crosswords. This works best in the scenes where they sit at home talking about what might have been as they dream of holidays on a cruise ship and wait for word of their illusive son, Stuart.

We’re introduced to Daphne (Gubbins) in Act Two. Though they are polar opposites, an unlikely friendship sparks between her and Gladys almost as if she was an angel in human form. She’s just the tonic to distract Gladys from her demons: their relationship feels as comforting as a fresh mug of Yorkshire Tea. Daphne is a welcome distraction for Gladys and indeed for those of us looking in on the action. Barely surviving on one old age pension, with her new found friend, Gladys is the richest girl in Beverley, metaphorically speaking. The ideas and contrasts between these two characters are perfectly pitched and bring a little light relief.

Each scene, played out as a series of duologues, is warm and succinct. One doesn’t appreciate the poignancy of the piece until the latter half of the play but when the penny drops you realise that this was the plays intension –  very clever.

Gladys: A Beverley Love Story is such a warm and inviting gem of a play. So raw, so real. Lovely, just lovely.

The Reviews Hub Score

Beautiful

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The Reviews Hub - Yorkshire & North East

The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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