We all know a Betty, a passionate woman with a zest for life, desperate to adventure but hopelessly tied down to mundane life. Contrary and bumbling you see the character bursting at the seams to try and live a life she once dreamed of, or had.
It’s the day of her son Mark’s wedding and she’s confined herself to the attic, refusing to come down. You feel like you’re sat amongst the boxes of old toys and Christmas decorations listening to her chit chatting about her trips to Asda and ladders in her tights. It’s easy to side with her to begin, but you end up jumping to and from each family member seeing things from their perspective.
The play could easily become dry and boring, due to little visual stimuli, but the fast paced dialogue and progression of character dynamics allow for an engaging tale. The sixty-something year old longing for excitement amongst a world of humdrum routine keeps the character and story relatable. The narrative teeters on the edge of being a play about a slightly crazy lady moaning in her attic, but is kept within the realms of sanity by Liza Goddard’s captivating performance.
Craze, the ghost, who represents Betty’s passion, is the man she once fell deeply in love with before marrying her now husband, Donald, due to getting pregnant with Mark. He drops into the picture mixing up the conservative home with saucy comments to sway the confused Betty. Moments between the now old Betty and still young Craze caused me to hold my breath and cringe in my seat.
Tension builds as you reach the conclusion but the far fetched ending left me feeling unsatisfied. It didn’t quite aline with or resolve the realistic play it had been up until then. A lovely finale with an adorable surprise but an ending that left me hungry for more.
The comedy and emotion was evenly spread keeping the performance at a pleasant tone but for me the acting took centre stage, allowing simple storytelling to powerfully capture the true to life issues portrayed throughout.
A Passionate Woman is on at the Cheltenham Everyman until Saturday February 25
Photos by: Antony Thompson, Thousand Word Media