Love, Laughter and Life at Ladies' Day
L-R: Emma Marshall (Shelley), Lilian McGrath (Pearl) and Nicky Main (Jan). Photo © Martin Pulley.
Ladies' Day By Amanda Whittington at Rugby Theatre from 16 – 23 September 2023.
Review by Ann Evans
Ladies' Day has switched from Royal Ascot to York and four friends from the Hull Fish Packing plant swap their white coats, gum boots and rubber gloves for fancy frocks, elegant hats and high heels.
For Shelley (Emma Marshall), Linda (Siobhan Healey), Jan (Nicky Main) and Pearl (Lilian McGrath) the plan is to celebrate Pearl’s early retirement, have a fun day out, enjoy a flutter on the horses and drink champagne – and for Shelley at least, bag herself a millionaire.
L-R: Siobhan Healey (Linda), Nicky Main (Jan), Lilian McGrath (Pearl)
However, their plans go far from smoothly and it’s only through sheer luck that they get into the Races to start with. But once in, and the champagne is flowing they decide to have a flutter on a 6-race accumulator in the vague hope of winning a fortune - which would solve the financial problems Shelley and Linda are facing. But as the ladies get tipsy, out come their innermost secrets and worries.
The four ladies play their parts with great enthusiasm, each with their own very distinctive personality. Special mention to Emma Marshall for her exuberant, sexy and funny portrayal of Shelley – which in turn shows her great versatility as an actor when you consider her previous role as Ruth Ellis in The Thrill of Love which incidentally was also written by Amanda Whittington.
Shelley ingratiating herself with the TV presenter, Jim. (Ash Hirons).
Ladies' Day brings lots of laughs – which the actors combine with the pathos of their situations as hidden secrets come to light. There’s some questionable (in my opinion!) choices of music with perhaps a little too much of Tony Christie’s Is This the Way to Amarillo although he is Linda’s favourite singer; and an overly sentimental scene featuring Unchained Melody.
This is definitely a play for the ladies by the ladies, and it was fun to see a number of the audience wearing 'Ascot' dresses and fascinators, but we do have three male actors in the cast, playing two roles each. Jonathan Pollard plays Joe, the supervisor from the Fish Packing factory and Patrick the jockey riding the ladies’ horse in the final race; Andrew Satchwell plays Fred a ticket tout and Kevin a gambler; and Ash Hirons who plays Jim a TV Presenter and Barry a bookie. But back to the plot.... meanwhile, five of their horses have won their races. Just one to go!
Linda and Patrick (Jonathan Pollard) the hungry jockey get to know one another.
The play is directed by Bev Avis Dakin who said, “The characters are so real, each with their own faults and qualities, and it’s been a pleasure working with my cast to bring them to life. Their stories are funny but poignant, and I’m sure audiences will relate to them and cheer them on.”
As always Rugby Theatre has a great Production team behind them and backstage crew keeping the whole performance running smoothly.
And finally - does their horse win in the 6th race? Do the ladies win a fortune? Well, you'll have to get your tickets and find out for yourself!
Tickets are available from Rugby Theatre box office on 01788 541234 or www.rugbytheatre.co.uk