LUCKY SODS

by John Godber

Directed by Marina Butterworth

Colne Dramatic Society

 

John Godber’s “Lucky Sods” is a ‘rags-to-riches’ play written in 1995, and it centres around a couple, Morris and Jean, as they navigate a lottery win. Does money really bring happiness, or does it just amplify problems in an already bumpy relationship?

 

There is still a slight buzz around the non-socially distanced theatre and “Lucky Sods” did not disappoint. With its earthy humour, evocative use of music, and rat-a-tat dialogue, we start with two people in a well-designed front room, with a backdrop of lottery balls, and a window which was changed with ease during the swift scene changes.

 

When I go to ‘first night’ performances, I always expect nerves and a few prompts. I did not see any evidence of first night nerves, and from where I was sitting, I did not hear the prompt once.

 

Riz Riley played Morris with a blunt charm and a slight nervous edge. He was likeable and his worries about his newfound fortune were well brought out, as was his relationship with his mother.

 

Sue Hartley played Jean. Together, Sue and Riz created that couple we all know; bumbling along, bickering about what’s on the telly, and arguing about ex-love interests long gone. Sue was a treat as Jean; her range, depth of character and emotions, just within one scene, was a pleasure to watch. Her ease with her newfound wealth was well-conveyed compared to Morris’ guilt and general discomfort.

 

Jean’s sister, Annie, was played with gusto by Tess James. Tess was confident in the role with a good command of her role from the off. Her bitterness at Jean’s win was evident early on. Tess doubled up as Morris’ mother, and although only on for one scene, she made an impact with her observations about spending the winnings on a fruit and veg stall, and talking about her son, Morris, when he was young. A quietly moving portrayal.

 

Annie’s long-suffering husband, Norman, was played by Darren Williams. His thick spectacles, beige cardigan, tracksuit bottoms, and a centre parting created a funny, silly, yet sympathetic character with a heart of gold. Everyone knows a Norman!

 

A mention must go to the interchangeable, stylish set, designed by John Mills. The piece moved from a front room to a hotel room in the USA, to a garden, a graveyard and to Amsterdam, which, in such a small space, was no mean feat.

 

I found Act 2 slightly less effective than Act 1, but that was the play and not the players. In the second act we meet Connie, Morris’ long-ago ex, in Amsterdam. She is a complete contrast to Jean and is brought to life with verve by Liz Rowell. Whether cooing in Morris’ arms, suggesting smothering him in peanut butter, or having a row with him about his attitude towards life, Liz didn’t miss a beat. A character that could come across as ‘the other woman’ or possibly, a ‘money grabber’, is given life and zest by Liz.

 

James Stovold was an American hotel attendant, helpful, pleasant and added to the cast well.

 

The piece was supported by strong, competent sound and lighting and authentic costumes. The first night audience, although quiet at first, clearly enjoyed themselves by the end. Marina Butterworth, in her directorial debut, showed skill with a good choice of play, and an excellent company of players. Her first, but I hope not her last. Thank you to the Little Theatre for inviting me.

 

James Bateman