Review: Ladies Day

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Ladies Day, Little Theatre, Dover Street

June 17th –Saturday 22nd

Review by Lynette Watson

 

Factory overalls were swapped for frocks and fancy hats and the going was good to firm as the Leicester Drama Company set off at a steady pace in ’Ladies Day’ their latest production at Leicester’s Little Theatre. Plot wise the play introduces us to four women whose mundane existence filleting fish in a Hull factory is enlivened by a spur of the moment decision to have a extravagant day at the races to celebrate the ‘leaving’ not retirement of Pearl, the eldest of the workers and with the relocation of Royal Ascot to York that particular year, the plan falls into place however, is Ascot ready for them? The play, by Amanda Whittington penned in the sixties, is a character driven piece dominated by four female leads each with distinct personalities and as the alcohol flowed their hidden secrets, hopes, regrets and desires are revealed being mainly delivered through a series of duologues almost echoing the background commentary when each horse is paraded around the ring before the start of a big race. It is the ladies who take the top honours in this tragic-comic play, Marie Vasiliou as innocent Jan who harbours a secret passion for the works boss gave her character real depth and her descent into drunken indiscretion was impressive avoiding the temptation to cross the line into caricature, experienced and versatile Jacque Hamilton gave a committed performance as Pearl who poignantly hankers after her lost lover while Francesca Leone gained the audience’s affection for making the coy and mousy Linda seem naïve without being completely gormless, bagging herself a winner, a jockey that is, not a horse! Talented Laura Brookes added vital energy to the action as loud, cocky and brassy Shelley whose outward abrasive behaviour disguised her underlying vulnerability a creditable performance. The five male characters flit in and out including Mbili Munthali making his debut at the Little as the TV commentator who after a seemingly tentative start gradually gained in confidence especially in his interaction with Shelley. With the much needed pace gaining ground in the second half and approaching the winning post with a subtle twist at the final hurdle, the Little Theatre’s penultimate production for the current season scored highly in the audience pleasing stakes.