Hindle Wakes, Lowther Pavilion

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Why spend a night in watching Coronation Street when you could watch humorous drama live at the Lowther Pavilion until Saturday?

Why spend a night in watching Coronation Street when you could watch humorous drama live at the Lowther Pavilion until Saturday?

Di Prutton’s slick production of Stanley Houghton’s Hindle Wakes sees the Anonymous Players doing what they do best: strong ensemble work played at pace with bags of character.

This is a play where women are strong and capable, unjustly kept down by the ineptitude of an undeserving patriarchy. Centring upon the fall-out from improper relations between philandering mill-owner’s son, Alan Jeffcote (the impressive Andy Cooke) and foreman’s daughter, Fanny (arguably Bernadette Scully’s finest performance to date) it highlights the hypocrisy and inequality of a society where ‘a bloke may love one girl and amuse himself with another’ but a woman has few rights.

The formidable-looking millinery of Mrs. Hawthorn and Mrs Jeffcote’s capacious handbag are used to great effect by Gillian Gregson and Liz Antcliffe. They bring the two adversaries to life deftly with subtlety and flair, the latter particularly amusing as the calculating, hard-nosed matriarch.

Every character, from Kirsten Burnett’s calm, dignified Beatrice and Camilla Woolner’s grumpy maid to Alf Betts’ beleaguered Jeffcote, is well-observed and the result is a super night’s entertainment from a play which is as fresh and engaging despite being set a hundred years ago.