New Garrick Rep production set to take centre stage

It’s always an exciting event when the Garrick Rep announces a new departure. They’ve had a notable run of previous successes – Shirley Valentine, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Haunting Julia – attracting top names, so I was eager to talk to the director and cast for the Rep’s latest project, September in The Rain.

IThe production is by John Godber of Hull Truck Theatre Company fame, one of Britain’s most-performed living dramatists. His track record, which includes Bouncers and Brookside, second to none. The play’s director Gareth Tudor Price has a superb pedigree too especially in relation to the author – they went to the same drama college – and he’s worked alongside the writer at Hull Truck where he was Artistic Director from 2002 to 2011. He directed a very successful Shirley Valentine for the Garrick last year, and now he’s back for more.

He’s brimming over with unfeigned enthusiasm during a break in rehearsals.

“It’s lovely to come back to the Garrick to do this piece,” he says. “Plus the company have the luxury of rehearsing in the Studio instead of dusty rehearsal rooms.”

“Why this play?” I ask.

“It was Rep Producer Tom Roberts’ idea,” he says. “He’s aware I’ve been directing Godber plays for a long time.

“This play is loosely based on John’s own grandparents who always went to Blackpool for their September holiday. They went for their honeymoon jn the 1950s and then made annual visits until the eighties, but the play goes backwards and forwards in time. Watching it is a bit like dipping into a family album.

“It’s a nostalgic, gentle comedy during which we learn the story of their marriage.”

Sarah Jane Buckley

Sarah Jane Buckley

At this point we’re joined by the play’s stars – David Lonsdale (Heartbeat) and Sarah Jane Buckley (Hollyoaks).

“It does hark back to the past and will make a lot of people remember their own seaside holidays from a time before foreign package deals changed holidays forever,” David says. “And yes, it is a nostalgic portrait of a relationship, but it isn’t sentimental – they bicker, like real couples do, while it’s also very funny as well.”

Sarah Jane agrees: “They’re a bit like Corrie’s Jack and Vera Duckworth.

“The play’s heart-warming, but it’s also realistic because it tells the story of two people who really care about each other, but still have a little niggle. It’s really about family relationships you can identify with, told in a series of seaside postcards.”

By now I’m really looking forward to seeing the play which promises to be nostalgic, charming, true to life – oh, and very funny. But don’t take my word for it. Go and see for yourself.

John Godber’s September In The Rain opens in the Garrick Studio tomorrow (May 30) and runs until June 21. For tickets phone the box office on 01543 412121 or go online at www.lichfieldgarrick.com.

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