Judges’ report from 2011 Geofrrey Whitworth Playwriting Competition
“This was a well-defined situation and some first-class writing allows total involvement in Linda and Danny’s difficulties. Their relationship is absorbing. The author has provided perceptive and very helpful brief descriptions of the protagonists, and the crackling conversation between two very well observed and interesting characters displays an exceptional ability with words. The subject matter is given thoughtful and considered treatment, and the events are portrayed with a great sense of humour and very natural dialogue. There are opportunities for movement and action not just conversation, and many moving moments, for example the spilling of a bag of baby clothes which reveals one of the greatest of Linda’s disappointments with her life. The resolve of Linda to dismiss Danny, her heart-break in being unable to become pregnant and the emotions which she has to go through in trying to come to terms with that realisation, result in some first-class writing. The brief introduction of a Woman who turns out to be a bit of a philosopher, and a Big Issue seller provide two lovely cameo roles. There’s a feeling of relief at the close that Linda and Danny’s difficulties seem to be resolved, or at least might be eventually capable of solution.
This is a beautifully written, thoroughly absorbing and very clever piece. “
The Night I Danced with Cyd Charisse
Review in Scene Magazine, Spring 2012
“This play proved a delightful read with the quick-fire banter of three garage mechanics and their female work colleagues contrasting well with the more poignant sections, reminiscent of the ‘Slab Boys’ humour. Each character has to cope imaginatively with varying degrees of loneliness. Exceptionally well drawn characters from the loud and brash to the realistic and cynical with a good mix of ages and original setting in a garage workshop. Thoroughly recommended for festival performance.”
Review in Amateur Stage Magazine, July 2011
“Set in a garage workshop, ‘The Night I Danced with Cyd Charisse’ is the story of three mechanics: Wilson, McBride and Lennox. Their workplace banter reveals a certain degree of companionship, though I doubt if they would describe themselves as friends. Wilson, the oldest of the three and most experienced both in life and in the complexities of the internal combustion engine, is given to the odd fantasy to disguise the sadness and loneliness that exist in his life. This is something he shares with the others and, as the story unfolds, we find that the characters have more in common than at first might appear.
In the end, Wilson has one more tale to tell. When he is called into the office he is expecting a pay rise, but when he returns he announces that he is to take early retirement. He tells the others that this has been planned for some time but we know this is not true.
Nancy McPherson’s one-act play has plenty of pathos and we can relate to and sympathise with the characters. In addition to the men, there are two contrasting females who add to the comedy and make the whole thing gel. I enjoyed reading this script and would recommend it as a festival piece.”
Judges’ Report from the 2012 Geoffrey Whitworth Playwriting Competition
A domestic drama concerning broken relationships in a one-time close and affectionate family. The play opens with preparations for an evening get-together hosted by Claire and her husband, Gary, which is to be attended by Claire’s brother Steven and his partner Louise. Some years before, Steven had walked in on his father, Joe, with another woman and is an unhappy, angry man unable to come to terms with his mother’s death and blaming everything on his father. Unknown to Steven the evening is to be an opportunity to effect some kind of reconciliation with with Joe.
From the beginning the tension is apparent with Gary being anything but helpful, and from the minute Steven and Louise arrive, Steven behaves in an offensive manner. Although Gary provides some light relief, his clumsy attempts at humour don’t help the situation and the two men in combination, increase the awkwardness and tension, with both tending to come across as rather boorish, though how Gary is played in performance would be vital. Claire is a welcome counter-point to the prickly men, although even she can’t resist reacting to Steven’s gibes. The arrival of Joe introduces a character who is mature, well-rounded and thoughtful and though Louise also attempts to be a peacemaker, Steven’s unwillingness to meet anybody half-way makes the possibility of any intended reconciliation seem remote. Despite Joe’s willingness to call off his intended emigration to spend more time with his son, the force of Steven’s long-standing anger and bitterness has been so strongly emphasised throughout the piece that his eventual reluctant willingness to talk seems almost too much of a capitulation. The hour of talk signalled at the end of the play seems doomed to failure, while Claire’s reaction to Joe’s unexpected about-face is also unresolved.
A powerful and effective piece of drama, the play is efficiently plotted and very well written with strongly defined characters and natural, snappy dialogue.