September in the Rain
Thompson and Sweeney are utterly believable and totally charming
The latest in a long line of John Godber plays to be staged at Darlington Civic, September in the Rain is a delightful memory trip back to days of pre-M62, pit weeks, the tower ballroom and, ultimately, what is there to do in Blackpool, in September, in the rain?.
Told in flashback, Liz (Claire Sweeney) and Jack (John Thomson) relive instances over the years from their annual summer trips to Blackpool; the wide eyed innocence of their first holiday together, the playful arguments as they settle into a knowing routine, the challenges of trying to keep their relationship together once the kids have grown and left and then the resigned acceptance that they really are perfect for each other.
Don't think for one moment that this is simply a love fest charting an unrealistic ideal of prefect harmony; the arguments will ring true with everyone who has ever been in a relationship and gone on holiday and provide a delicious yet sobering recognition that we've all been there, done that, said those things. Acutely accurate in even the tiniest of details, September in the Rain is never preachy about how relationships should work, it simply provides a mirror upon which the audience can see themselves.
Claire Sweeney once again proves that she is a wonderful actress, her performance never seeks for pity or sympathy and remains, with an inner strength enough for the both of them, still obviously in love with Jack despite his seemingly lack of romance or feelings. John Thomson has in Jack a perfect role through which he can deliver his northern 'charm', often slipping towards one of his early stand up characters of Bernard Righton but never played simply for comedic effect and always remaining truthful and believable as a hard working, hard playing guy (especially his offering of a 'oncer').
If you have ever taken a break to a British seaside resort or have family members who have a routine of doing so year after year (I have!) then you will instantly recognise Liz & Jack - depending on your age they maybe the couple who used to come on the works coach trip, they might be the couple who you see every year at the same boarding house or they just could be you, yourselves.
September in the Rain is on at Darlington Civic until Saturday 28th September.