Burnley Garrick hits on 'The Right Thing' in new production

The Burnley Garrick Theatre Group’s second play of the new season is The Right Thing by local playwright, John Turley.

Lauren Stirzaker-Jackson (Alice), Alan Hargreaves (Arthur) and Gary Leonard (Frank).
Lauren Stirzaker-Jackson (Alice), Alan Hargreaves (Arthur) and Gary Leonard (Frank).

Together with Helen Christie, John has delivered a wonderful, warm, funny and in several places, hard-hitting reflection of Nelson (along with a great many other towns) in 1945: the people “…made huge sacrifices and displayed amazing fortitude, determination and yes, sheer bloody-mindedness to survive and win through” (John Turley).

The large stage is set simply and effectively, with a dining room stage right and an empty space with black drapes to stage left - an area that is fluidly reset again and again to become a variety of scenes as the play progresses. Visually, the play is convincing with authentic period costume and props, whizzing an audience back into a time only some may just remember.

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The contemporaneous music interjections including the cast’s own vocal contributions, are a welcome touch that adds a lovely warmth, complementing the set and the different scenes.

The whole cast is an excellent one: Lauren Stirzaker-Jackson, Alan Hargreaves, Emma Samworth, Beverly McKiernan, Gary Leonard, Dominic Moffit, John Cummings, Stephen Dixon, Simon Pomfret and Kathleen Riley are engaging and perform with sincerity.

Turley writes with such wit, giving characters such as vegetable growing Arthur (Alan Hargreaves) some hugely funny one-liners that are superbly delivered: “You lot, call yourself sprouts?” (to his tiny pea-sized crop) yet also, some poignant monologues that bring moisture to one’s eyes, and emotional outbursts from recently returned Frank (Gary Leonard) that are un-nerving, but necessary: “Sleep? Not with my dreams!”.

The inner turmoil of young wife Alice (Lauren Stirzaker) is palpable. With references to Selena Cooper, a woman’s fight for independence and Alice’s own conflict with both her husband and herself is scripted with heart. It is a play that breathes realism: the audience is seduced by the dialogue into the thoughts, emotions and politics of characters with ease, thus reflecting the craftsmanship of the playwright and the skill of the all of the actors, and production team.

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Sound and lighting are cleverly designed for a smooth transition from scene to scene evoking a television drama quality, but with that in-the-room punch that only really good live theatre provides. This is a very accomplished production

The Right Thing runs until Saturday October 30th at Burnley Youth Theatre. Tickets are available on 01282 439997.