FOR a play entitled September in the Rain, this production certainly got a sunny reception on its first night at Derby Theatre.
Claire Sweeney and John Thompson played to a packed house when they took to the stage as Jack and Liz, an elderly couple reminiscing about their annual trips to Blackpool – the seaside playground of the north west.
The chemistry between the pair was excellent, with both actors slipping easily into their roles, first as elderly holidaymakers, and then as a young married couple enduring the first years of a clearly tumultuous relationship.
Thompson made the perfect grumpy Yorkshire everyman, with his quiet resolve and quick temper. It slotted in fantastically alongside Sweeney's bossy, no-nonsense force-to-be-reckoned-with.
The simple set meant the focus was on the actors throughout, which meant they had full scope to portray the roles as they wanted to.
With just the two of them on stage throughout the entire performance, they could have been forgiven for letting their concentration and roles slip during the evening, but they were perfect.
If they missed even a line, it was not noticeable, and their delivery was hilarious.
The fun behind Godber's script, which was based on his grandparent's annual holidays to the seaside, shone through the performance, but it meant that more muted moments – such as when Liz is overcome with worry at the prospect of not being able to have children – were all the more poignant.
Actors have always done a good job when the audience leaves genuinely caring about the characters created by the playwright, and that really was the case here. When they had a falling out, I was rooting for them to make up, and when, at the end they resumed their hunched, slow-moving – and more companionable – forms, I felt a tug at the heartstrings, as I hoped they would make it for one more trip to the beach.
I honestly could not fault this play.