Nana's Knickers gets everyone in a twist!
The team with front four: Nana Vera (Fiona Robson), author Andi Hardy, Jenny (Lisa Cowley), Alex (Baz Stilinski.
Nana’s Knickers by Andi Hardy, production by Phoenix Players at The Bear Pit Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, 10 – 13 May.
Review by Ann Evans
Nana’s Knickers is Andi Hardy’s first full length two-act production and I’m sure it will be the first of many. It’s a genuinely funny play that takes a look at family and relationships and gives them a good old shake up. We’ve all heard of ‘men behaving badly’ well this is definitely a case of a 65-year-old grandma behaving very badly!
Andi says that inspiration for the play came during Covid, when people were separated from family and she got to thinking about family and friends and decided to try and get to the bottom of some familiar behavioural traits. She also got to thinking about her own three generations of grans - her Nanny Sue, her Gran Teresa and Great Nana Cathy with all their wise and worldly words of advice. Creating Nana Vera she found to be a lot of fun but at the same time writing a comedy she says was terrifying – “What if no one laughs?” she confided.
There was no need to worry, the laughter came from the very start as the audience warmed to these colourful characters even though Nana Vera (Fiona Robson) was deep in the throes of nagging to death husband John (Rob Warnes) and her daughter Alice (Karen McDonald) about her beef wellington being over cooked and the fact that there was trifle for ‘afters’ yet again – with every grumble bouncing off John’s impenetrable shell of disinterest.
Nana Vera is tired of her husband of 45 years showing not the slightest bit of interest in anything apart from when his next meal will be set down in front of him. Vera’s nagging has long ceased to make any difference to the rut they are both in. Her daughter Alice doesn’t help matters either.
The stage is set at The Bear Pit, Stratford.
Impulsively, Vera has had enough and walks out on John, moving in with granddaughter Jenny (Lisa Cowley) whether she likes it or not. There are shocks all around however, as Vera discovers that Jenny’s flat mate Alex (Baz Stilinski) isn’t a girl but a rather lively gay young man with a very active love life – the latest being Jamie (Adam Clarke). With her eyes well and truly opened, Nana Vera realises what’s been missing from her life and decides she wants a piece of the action!
She fully intends becoming a cougar, but as she hasn’t quite got her head around modern-day jargon, she plans on becoming a jaguar.
While Alex takes 65-year-old Nana Vera under his wing – out there on the tiles, Jenny is left feeling frustrated and responsible for her nana’s behaviour. Meanwhile John is in danger of starvation as he has no idea how to even turn the cooker on to make a meal, or how to clean a scrambled egg pan, or even how to work the vacuum cleaner. I think a lot of audience laughter had an tinge of recognition!
To add to John’s desperation to get to grips with domesticity, Vera calls by to announce that she’s found herself another, younger man. The trouble is, her other man is granddaughter Jenny’s new boyfriend, Chris (Callum McCormick). Emotions are running high, much to the delight of the audience, who were kept entertained throughout the entire performance. And while I don’t want to give away any spoilers it’s not just Nana Vera who gets some eye-opening surprises!
A hugely enjoyable production, everyone played their parts with conviction – and hats off to Fiona Robson (Nana Vera) for her excellent portrayal of a 65-year-oid on a mission to re-discover that inner woman. With the intimacy of The Bear Pit’s central stage adding to the atmosphere of being right there in the middle of the action it was a fabulous evening’s entertainment.
More details about The Phoenix Players: www.phoenixplayersstratford.co.uk
For tickets: https://www.thebearpit.org.uk/