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Compelling theatre with a loving heart and a loud voice!

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Compelling theatre with a loving heart and a loud voice!

What they are saying


 REVIEW, GODFREY’S LAST LOVE (BRING ME SUNSHINE), FEBRUARY 2016


True Yorkshireman, retired cricket umpire and avowed socialist Godfrey Shackleton may have fallen on his feet with a lucky lottery win - but will that luck linger on into his love life? And what happens when his heart starts to flutter for twinkly widow, Betty, who just happens to be from Lancashire and a Conservative? Will it turn into war of the roses or a beautiful bunch of them?

Halifax-based award-winning theatre company, Talking Stock’s, latest offering is a charming look at how love conquers all and blows politics, past relationships and county rivalries out of the water. A sequel to Alan Stockdill’s 2014 play Godfrey’s Last Stand which played in various theatres over the past 20 months, Godfrey’s Last Love (Bring me Sunshine) stands alone.

The backstory of this affable cricket umpire who wins the lottery is explained but not pushed in our face. We know just enough to move on. Well it made perfect sense to me, never having seen the first play (although I’m now desperate to see it please!).

Keith Royston is a astounding force of nature with his storytelling prowess as the indefatigable Godfrey, a talented actor who is the lynchpin of a first-class cast. On a lads’ trip to Morecambe with best mate Freddy (played with measured, endearing humour by director and playwright, Stockdill) and grandson, Justin, who loves spending time with his Grandad when home from University. Talking Stock newcomer Todd Wilson hit just the right note playing ‘old soul’ Justin who fitted in with the cross generational banter like a cosy kid glove.

Sharon Kelly delivered Godfrey’’s daughter Donna with a refreshingly open, natural verve and sparky humour. Meanwhile, there was a touching and very real performance from soon-to-be octogenarian Marion Reynolds as Betty, who is determined to bag Godfrey’s heart from the outset. Her monologues about losing her husband and young son were beautifully measured and made things even more excruciating when the new-found happiness with Godfrey slipped away almost as soon as it arrived.

This is a refreshing, touching, witty and emotional piece of theatre about finding love in the third age: The appeal, the guilt, the fears, the hopes the dreams. Can you share old places with somebody new? And if you believe that there is something else, something after, and you have lost your first love and found another companion, who will you be with in heaven?

Philosophy, pathos, laughter, life lessons, tantrums and tears all came together and the audience heaved a sigh of relief when after a sickening and sudden split, the hopeful couple finally laid their fears to rest for the last miles of their journey. Brilliant, touching, light, shade, ups, downs and ups again. This play had it all. Bravo Talking Stock.

FREYA SIMPSON (Lancashire Evening Post)

Audience response

“Your best performance so far. Loved it. Once again brought us to tears, made us laugh, made us think…” AB

“Stockdill continues to write real life with unrivalled attention to detail. Can't wait for the next one…” CM

“A fantastic production, superbly performed with a great storyline. You all just go from strength to strength. A heartwarming evening all round…” JH

 

REVIEW, THE LAST MEMORY, ACTOR’S WORKSHOP, JUNE 2016

The busy Actors' Workshop was the perfect setting for Talking Stock's latest theatrical offering; its cabaret style seating providing a comfy and intimate location allowing the audience to sit back, relax and absorb.

The Last Memory is a play by local award-winning playwright, Alan Stockdill, and follows the story of a daughter and her elderly father. The narrative tackles the cruel realities of the progressive dementia disease through the eyes of a daughter who is coming to terms with her father losing his memory piece by piece.

Simple and effective staging and direction complements the true and heartfelt dialogue that is collected from real life relationships. Moments are touching but funny, Stockdill’s dialogue has an Alan Bennett feel; northern kitchen sink drama injected with the cold realities of life.

This challenging story has some wonderfully theatrical moments that are not only moving but also confidently performed by a strong duo. The relationship between actors Keith Royston and Catherine Pasek seems a true one, the dialogue is formed from the truth and so are the performances. Link by link this is a solid one act play that addresses the realities with a bitter sweet perspective.

Talking Stock have an extensive tour planned throughout the country and more details can be found at their website www.talkingstock.co.uk. All profits are going to the Alzheimer’s Society & local dementia benefits. Catch this gem of play, it’s well worth the ticket price.

Adam Smith

 


REVIEW, THE LAST MEMORY, THE SWAN, DOBCROSS, JULY 2016

Rarely can a piece of art reduce an audience to both laughter and tears The Last Memory by Alan Stockdill is one of those rare gems. Tracing the attempt by a father (Ernest, played by Keith Royston) and daughter (Lynne, played by Catherine Pasek) to preserve his memories, the play touches on a number of themes: faith, love and the pressures of watching your parent slowly change before your eyes.

This is a very moving and beautiful piece of theatre. The raw emotion that the two bring to the small stage at The Swan infuses itself into those watching, as we take the journey into Ernest’s dementia and his attempt to preserve that “last memory” on video so his daughter can remember the real him and not the man he has become.

After he received his diagnosis, the audience hear how he had to deal with watching his own mother as she became a prisoner in her own mind and forgot who he was. He tells Lynne that she is to look for the joy in his eyes and if she can’t see it, she is to watch the video.

The play takes its inspiration from the experiences of its author, Stockdill, and his leading lady, Pasek. Both the actors portraying these parts bring them to life with such passion and belief that it is impossible not to become emotionally invested in in how they cope.

A very sparse set allowed the players to really connect with the audience in this most intimate of venues. There were people (including myself) who were in tears during this production. Conversely, there are some stand out parts that really make you stop and laugh with them as well.

When Ernest begins to record his memory, he takes the audience on a journey of love, life and his worry that he won’t remember his daughter. As his condition worsens, Lynne struggles to see the joy in her father’s eyes, yet she realises that their roles are not reversed, but that Ernest is still her dad, and she is still his daughter.

After the show, there was a Q & A with the artists and director. Hearing other people share their experiences of this illness, it was impossible not to be moved by just how this disease affects so many people in very different ways, and just how important it is that works like this are shown to as broad an audience as possible.

Andrew Riley

Compelling theatre with a loving heart and a loud voice!

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