ACT Theatre Reviews 2021-2022

THE RIGHT THING by John Turley directed by John Turley and Helen Christie Burnley Garrick Theatre Group The year is 1945, the war has ended and in a shock result, Labour has won a landslide victory. This isn’t the only shock in this touching, thoughtful and quite beautiful production. The play is written by local playwright John Turley. I have to try and put to one side the buzz I still get of just being in a theatre and put a reviewer’s hat on. I’ll get the minor niggles out of the way as this was a very special night of theatre. There were a few bumps in the dialogue in early scenes, possibly down to first-night nerves and some scene changes took slightly longer than they should have done. Co-directors Helen Christie and John Turley assembled an excellent cast and directed them incredibly well. Each actor brought something unique to his or her role; whether hundreds of lines or ten. The play centres around Alice, a 28 year old woman who has been at home during the war whilst her husband, Frank, was out fighting the enemy. We open to a living room which occupies the left of the stage and the right of the stage is bare, with other scenes taking place in that space. Alice was played by Lauren Stirzaker-Jackson and is put through emotional hoops during the play. Lauren played Alice with such confidence, showing Alice’s bravery and fear simultaneously. I could feel the audience with her throughout; a tremendous achievement from a talented performer. Her scenes with Frank being particularly memorable. Frank was played by Gary Leonard, Gary owned the role, commanding the stage whilst not hogging the limelight. He is large in stature, but clearly a shaken man after the horrors of war. I believed in him and the character as soon as he entered early in the play. One particularly effective scene, Frank returns home from the pub, drunk, and is genuinely frightening, wobbling around the stage and handling his wife. Both Lauren and Gary deserve commendation. Frank’s shoulder to cry on was Jimmy, a wide eyed idealist, a true believer in the socialist cause. Jimmy, played by Dominic Moffitt was almost the moral anchor of the play, constantly trying to steer Frank on the right path and butting heads with the local spiv played with a frightening relish John Cummings. I found Dominic’s portrayal of Jimmy quietly moving. The scene on top of Pendle Hill (suggested to us via effective sound effects and good acting, theatre at its best) was very tender in its sincerity. I hope to see Dominic on stage again. Arthur, Alice’s father, begins as the light relief, until we delve below the character’s grumpy surface. Arthur is brought to life by Alan Hargreaves, I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen Alan on stage. He was superb. From one of his first lines, ‘that vicar’s a communist if ever I saw one’, he had the audience in the palm of his hand. He twinkled on stage, bringing