After doing some research on war time Salford and working on a few improvisations with them (and they had many great ideas of their own) I wrote the play over a period of six days, one of the fastest pieces of writing I had ever done. When we had people laughing and crying at the read throgh I knew we had something that could really move people. Now we had to set about the business of getting a group of 20 of them who had never acted on stage before, ready for a performance at The Lowry Quays Theatre. It was a resounding success.
The play returned and has just completed a three night run at Salford Arts Theatre and finished it's return last night at a packed Lowry Quays Theatre. Ian Curley's set looked magnificent after a year in storage. A special mention toTommy Lever who runs this group through Saint Aiden's Church with the help of many of the adults and parents that complete the cast. If you are looking for a shining example of what community is all about then visit them, they are amazing. Well their reward for all their hard work? The play will return every year - and boy do they deserve it, if you missed it this year be sure to catch it next year. Below are a few images from the show and behind the scenes, and a review from SALFORD ONLINE's Teresa McMahon.
Teresa McMahon of SALFORD ONLINE reviews the show
On a wretched rainy Sunday evening, the ambiance was very family oriented and friendly at The Lowry’s Quays Theatre which was full to the brim, which is no surprise considering the success of this show when it came to The Lowry in August 2012.
The play, written and directed by Salford’s very own professional scriptwriter Joe O’Byrne, came to The Lowry on the last night of its run after three nights at Salford Arts Theatre. With funding from the Heritage Lottery Young Roots Project and Salix Homes, O’Byrne, his co-director Jacqui Carroll of REEL Manchester, and the remarkable cast, really brought this fascinating and charming story to life.
A true credit to Lower Kersal’s Young people’s Group, this play really captured the community spirit in Salford at the time of the 1940 Christmas bombings which left over 600 people dead in one evening, including 16 nurses at Salford Royal Hospital.
Set in an air raid shelter in the centre of Salford during the months leading up to the devastating Salford Blitz, the play focuses on the how the everyday people of Salford rose to the challenge of the second world war with the unbroken, proud spiritedness, vigour and courage they’re famous for. With many laughs along the way, the play highlighted how, even in the indifferent and callous face of adversity, the hardworking folk could muster a few laughs and knew how to have a good time. Resonating, one may suspect, the current status quo.
Blokes sat around playing cards, women gossiping, kids’ playing, and general bickering, set the scene for some hilarious gags such as the rejoicing of the news that the rent collectors has been hit, only to realize that the pawn shop next door has, too. Then there are Leonard’s ashes that get spilled and swept up only to be temporarily stored in the teapot. That is until Mr McGuire decides to pour himself a brew, proclaiming: “It’s very full bodied.”
Outstanding performances by co-director Jacquie Carroll, as the loveable scarlet woman Rita; Martin Hazeldine, as wheeler dealer Walter (who hilariously keeps fish in the air raid toilet to keep it fresh); and Thomas Curran, as jumped up jobs-worth Tommy McGuire, helped make this play truly appealing and authentic. However, the entire cast did an exceptional job and it almost seems unfair to highlight a few.
The audience received this creation with great appreciation and Lynda Hazeldine’s Margaret Mottershead even had them participating in a rendition of There’s Only One Way to Tipperary. The play culminated in a powerful and emotional climax which didn’t leave a dry eye in the theatre, which, in turn, only compounded the actors’ portrayal of these blitz victims.
An utterly powerful and brilliant team effort for which everyone who took part should be profoundly proud. I will definitely be going to see this next year.
There's a teaser trailer below and more in previous updates here...best wishes.