Ilkley Playhouse

OVER the past few weeks we all experienced the calm before Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis hit the country, bringing about plenty of disruption in their wake. In the Wharfeside Theatre from March 5 to14 the audience will witness the calm, quiet lives of Ursula and Janet Widdington, spinster sisters who enjoy cocoa before bedtime, listening to the radio and unravelling balls of wool. Suddenly their lives are uprooted by the discovery of an unconscious young man washed up on a beach near their home. The man’s arrival awakens emotions, arouses suspicion and changes the lives of all those who meet him. The play is Ladies in Lavender, adapted from Charles Dance’s critically acclaimed screenplay in 2004 starring Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. The play is set in a small Cornish fishing village in 1936 but the idyllic surroundings are interrupted by the impending events of war in Europe and the sisters’ peaceful lives are disturbed. This story is beguiling. It is an old fashioned drama that unfolds at a slow, gentle pace but the emotions feel palpably real in this engaging and tender production, directed by Jay Cundell Walker, Ilkley Playhouse’s Artistic Director. It is a beautiful, emotional and poignant play about unfulfilled dreams and the longing for love.

The first of our fringe productions We’re Not Going Back will be performed in the Wildman Studio on February 27th, 28th and 29th. The play is written by Boff Whalley who is perhaps best known as the former lead guitarist for the punk and folk band Chumbawamba. He was commissioned to write this play about the miner’s strike in Yorkshire. However, don’t expect to see any miners or coppers or picket line battles or politicians, or union-hall meetings or pictures of Thatcher being destroyed. Because the more interesting story, the one that at the time was kept out of the mainstream media was the story of the thousands of women who organised to support the strike. The groups of women that fed the striking men from day one, who collected money and food and toys for the kids at Christmas, the women whose lives were turned upside down. The play is based on sisters Olive, Mary and Isabel who support the local miners by setting up a branch of Women Against Pit Closures. This hard-hitting but very funny play celebrates the power of community and ordinary people fighting to survive against Governmental injustice. The play will feature live music from Lorna Bird and Mairead O’Donnell. On the opening night of this play, Thursday, February 27, Boff will be joining us for a Question and Answer session following the performance. Turning to music now, on Saturday, March 21 local band, the Two Rivers Swing Band will be ‘letting the good times roll’ in the Wildman Studio. Directed by trumpeter and jazz arranger Trevor Vincent, their performance will include a mix of big band and rock ’n roll favourites and well known numbers by the great band leaders Glenn Miller, Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Expect sparkling vocals, tight ensemble playing and exciting solos. Please note that this is a seated event with limited dancing space.

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Caroline Mutton