A Fine Bright Day Today

Philip Goulding
Coliseum Theatre, Oldham

A Fine Bright Day Today production photo

Following his adaptation of The Road to Nab End for last summer's season closer at Oldham Coliseum, writer Philip Goulding returns with an original play set in a remote coastal town in the north of England.

Margaret is the widow of a trawlerman who has brought up her daughter Rebecca alone after her husband was lost at sea, but now Rebecca, at the age of 31, is leaving home to be with her poet boyfriend of whom Margaret disapproves. Milton is over from America following the journey of famous artist Bowden Broome a hundred years ago. When Rebecca sends Milton to her mother to enquire about renting her new spare room, she is surprised when Margaret agrees, but Milton's influence brings about many more changes in Margaret over the next couple of weeks.

The play has some tender moments and some funny moments but very little in the way of conflict. The dialogue over-explains everything using far more words than are necessary or would be used in real life and occasionally erupts into monologues or thinly-disguised diatribes on the author's pet subjects.

The slight awkwardness of the dialogue tests the experience of the actors, and while Samantha Power creates a lively and warm Rebecca, she doesn't quite manage to make the words sound natural, a feat that Christine Cox as Margaret and Robin Bowerman as Milton achieve very well in a couple of wonderfully sympathetic and moving performances.

Alison Heffernan's set design creates a kitchen of orange formica that harks back thirty years or more, just as the play requires, and some outdoor locations, all backed by a painterly representation of the sea, that fearsome presence that has taken the lives of people close to all of the characters. Alan Edward Williams has composed some haunting, atmospheric music to cover the lengthy scene changes.

All-in-all, a fairly interesting story told with humour and some good performances that add up to a production that is quite entertaining but nothing really to get excited about.

Playing until 9th July 2011

Reviewer: David Chadderton

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