‘Ten Quid’ is a semi-autobiographical play written by John Grimshaw, who thirteen years ago under the nom de plume Johnny Grim started ‘A Lad in Sane Productions’. On average, John has written of one play per year, including madcap humour, pantomimes through to touching dramas. Like most writers he has had good years and bad years, but I am very pleased to see him back at his very best with this poignant tale.
Johnny has had some of his scripts accepted by international script publishers and rights agents, including the highly respected ‘Lazy Bee Scripts’ in the UK.
This two-hour entertaining World Premiere will renew memories for so many UK immigrants. It can be seen at the Stirling Theatre in Morris Place, Innaloo and has curtain up at 8.00 each Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening until 11th May. There are Sunday matinées at 2.00 pm on 28th April and 5th May.
The scene: 2005 in Wythenshawe, a massive housing estate in south Manchester.
The sets were all designed by Jane Sherwood: A skate park. Difficult to represent but depicted with ingenuity with the ramp and walls tagged by William Sherwood.
The boys’ bedroom (1970)
Newell Arms Pub – impressive. The extras – human and props – made all the difference.
A set of security gates and the land beyond – where did you get these?
Aunt and Uncle’s living room. Smart, with a projection view of a bay window overlooking a street, with a room of comfortable domestic fittings.
Manchester Airport – simple but effective.
The sets were built by Jane Sherwood, Richard Norman, Karen Angel, Melissa Skeffington, Pauline Gibb, Peter Neaves, Lara Brunini and Audrey Ognenis. The poor Stage Manager, Melissa Skeffington, had a massive task organising the half dozen set changes that took place in the Second Act, but the cast were quick, quiet and efficient.
Jane Sherwood’s lighting design included creating the effects of a large grassed area and a lively pub; very good. Lighting operator, young Mitch McClements was working on his first professional show and did quite well but needs to check on the ‘two seconds limit after the dialogue finishes’ then dimming the lights. Be prepared for action – watch Hard Quiz’ on TV a see how many people lose, because their hands are nowhere near the button – anticipation wins. The dimming was very good, just the right speed. A complex show Mitch, well done.
Sound design and operator Ian Wilson did his usual reliable and fine job.
It is a fine summer’s day in Manchester and a young Glaswegian, semi-gothic lass, Cody (Lara Brunini) has taken her son Alex (Adeson Oyasope) to the skateboard park. As she sits watching him, a middle-aged man Mark (Peter Neaves) asks if he can sit on the bench next to her. They start chatting and she learns that Mark left the area some 40 years earlier to live in Australia and has just returned for family business. As they share childhood memories, we see several locals out for a stroll. Some (Janice Nylander) like to wander and take in nature’s gifts; whereas one exasperated man (Neville Harlow) picks up the rubbish lying around the waste bin, before joining his friends (Karen Angel, Richard Norman). A young office girl (Fleur Pereira) sits under a tree enjoying her lunch, as a boy (Tobias Hawkes) with skateboard in hand heads for the ramps.
We flash back 40 years, where Mark as a young boy (Oscar Hawkes) and his older brother, Tommy (Sean Smith) are lying in their bunk beds discussing the family’s impending move to Australia. Tommy is determined not to go.
Back in 2005, as Mark and Cody go for a walk, they have an encounter with an officious security guard (Brian Mutete – plenty of laughs) before heading off to one of Mark’s old haunts. Things have changed as a flamboyant DJ, Pete (Nathan Di Giovanni) gets the atmosphere pulsating. Next day, Mark had to visit his pedantic Auntie Paula (Pauline Gibb) who appears to be still living the austere times of rationing, and her curmudgeon, hen-pecked husband, Uncle Bernard (Paul Anderson). Could this be the reason Mark’s family left the country?
Another creative extra was Vanessa Gudgeon.
John is a fine and creative director, but like so many skilled writers he has occasionally struggled to direct his own work. Being a generous chap, Johnny believes in giving any newcomers a chance to shine; but as a result, he has occasionally been let down. So wisely John has, for the third time, engaged the talents of multi-award-winning director, Jane Sherwood. Jane – who has succeeded in many genres – has several awards including ‘Best Director’ at the annual Finley Awards, Dramafest, South West Drama Festival and Hills Festival of Theatre.
The wardrobe was supervised by Alison Goodwin. The scene-setting parts of Act One, although containing well delivered, true to life and fascinating dialogue, lacked sparkle. A cut away episode would help the lengthy dialogue. When Alex (great) came off the park the whole atmosphere picked up. This is a strong and well-respected cast and John has given them all a rich, varied and well thought out character. Lara had the unenviable task of speaking with a Glaswegian accent – one of the most difficult to perform; at first it was distracting, but she eased into it and by the end she managed to relax and the brogue flowed. Very good performances by Lara and Peter, who even brought a tear towards the end. For much of the play it was a two-hander, so quite a challenge, but they kept the chemistry going throughout. John wrote a few poignant passages, blending them with charming situations and a comical family visit. The dialogue is snappy with some dry British humour added.
There was a song, humour, sadness, excitement and just a little bit of sauciness. What more could an audience ask for?
It was good to see such a full house as some theatre companies are having a tough time at the moment.
John can be proud of this story that half the audience will have experienced themselves. Well done to all concerned.