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September in the Rain @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

Published by: Yvonne Delahaye on 15th Oct 2013 | View all blogs by Yvonne Delahaye

From its roots as a holiday resort dating back to the 1700s, Blackpool’s popularity remains undiminished. Way back in 1879 Blackpool became the world’s first town with electric street lighting, creating streets full of hotels and boarding houses, luring a new generation of working-class holidaymakers to the resort. As demand for entertainment grew, the first promenade, North Pier, Central Pier, Theatre Royal and Pleasure Gardens had already opened and in 1878 the Winter Gardens billed as the ‘most magnificent palace of amusement in the world.’  Inspired by Paris’s Eiffel Tower, the Blackpool Tower Company was created to construct its very own version, about half the size of its Parisian cousin, which opened in 1894. 13699_full.jpg
With all its history it’s little wonder that September in the Rain is set in Blackpool as it takes us through a journey of 40 years from its heyday in the 1950s, when visitors reached 17 million a year.  Yorkshire couple Jack and Liz retell of their annual summer holiday jaunt across the Pennines to Blackpool, dipping in and out of time together, recalling their first holiday as newlyweds to their last, sharing memories filled with tears and laughter, fish and chips and wet and windy promenades in September. It’s the age of donkey rides, talent contests, saucy postcards, stripy deckchairs, ice cream, rolled-up trousers and knotted hankies, before the ease of cheap flights to foreign climes became the norm. 

Claire Sweeney and John Thomson star in this heartwarming, bittersweet comedy gem, written and directed by the Olivier Award-winning John Godber who is considered a master of observational comedy. His plays have won numerous awards including and an Olivier and 7 Los Angeles Critics Circle Awards. He is one of the most performed playwrights in the English language. His plays include: Bouncers, Up ‘n' Under, April in Paris, Teechers, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Cramp, Happy Jack, September in the Rain, Salt of the Earth, Passion Killers, Happy Families, Up ‘n' Under ll, Gym & Tonic, Dracula, Lucky Sods, Hooray for Hollywood, Weekend Breaks, It Started With A Kiss, Unleashed, Thick As A Brick, Big Trouble in Little Bedroom, Season In The Sun, on A Night Like This, Our House, Departures, Men of the World, Reunion, Screaming Blue Murder, Black Ties & Tales, Perfect Pitch Going Dutch, Christmas Crackers and Crown Prince. September in the Rain was inspired by his parent’s holidays to Blackpool during the golden era of the British seaside.

The play opens on the elderly Liz (Claire Sweeney) talking about their first trip to Blackpool as a newly married couple.  She is soon joined by husband Jack (John Thomson) who listens to her rambling on and just chips in with an abrupt ‘no’ and ‘aye’.  Seldom can an actor deliver just one word and get such a big laugh, but John is a master of deadpan comedy and we immediately warm to his blunt Yorkshire character.  He fills the stage and ekes out the comedy from every line and piece of business, especially the deckchair routine!  Claire creates a nagging but feisty wife who wants to change her man, resulting in many arguments, but eventually she learns to accept him for who he is. 

It is an absolute delight to watch these 2 consummate actors perform and fill the stage with not only Jack and Liz, but a variety of other characters along the way.  To hold the attention of an audience of 1200 and keep us all laughing throughout requires great skill as we recognize their character traits with all their faults and imperfections.  Godber, as always, has some moments of pathos to balance out the comedy, adding depth to these people we soon came to love and understand the simplicity of their lives.

Claire Sweeney is one of the country's theatre and television favourites with recent credits including a national tour of Educating Rita with Matthew Kelly, Tell Me on a Sunday and Legally Blonde.

John Thomson’s television credits include the comedy classics Cold Feet and The Fast Show as well as Coronation Street and Waterloo Road. Astonishingly September in the Rain is John’s first UK tour, but he looked and sounded completely at home on stage and we caught every word and nuance. 

This is a brilliant night out and there’s still time to catch this comedy acting masterclass:

Book your tickets now at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre Box Office 0844 871 7607 (bkg fee) or visit (bkg fee)

Performances:   Mon 14 – Sat 19 Oct  7.30pm, Thu & Sat Matinee 2.30pm
Tickets:   £10 - £25  
Box Office:   0844 871 7607 (bkg fee)
Groups Hotline:  0844 871 7614
Access Booking: 0844 871 7677 (bkg fee)
Online Booking: (bkg fee)

The Tour continues to:
Mon Oct 28th-Nov 2nd  The Churchill Theatre, Bromley
Mon Nov 25th – Sat Nov 30th  Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye


1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 4 years ago
    Thanks, Yvonne. Sounds like a hoot!
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