by Bill Naughton
4 October – 3 November 2012
Reviewed by Alwyn Murray
The Octagon Theatre, Bolton is staging Bill Naughton’s Lighthearted Intercourse directed by David Thacker from 4 October until 3 November 2012.
The first act all takes place in the bedroom of a young couple Joe (Nicholas Shaw) and Madge (Fiona Hampton) with delightfully funny and amusing conversation and sexual humour as Joe tries to get dressed to go out and look for work while Madge tries to tempt him back to bed, the wonderful humour coming from his attempts to prevent himself from getting aroused as the consequences would make him late. A figure known only as The Visitor (David Fleeshman) whom only Joe can see appears in this scene who drops in from time to time. His message is that Joe should appreciate what he has instead of wishing for more – "make the most of now" – and that his family needs him more than it needs a better house and more material goods. Although The Visitor mentions motorways and airports and sums of money that Joe could only dream of, Joe doesn't react to any of this, except for when he says that the house they are standing in is to be demolished.
Act two moves down into the kitchen and begins from where we left off with Joe getting ready to go to the pit to see if there is any work available while Madge prepares for his homecoming after his inevitable rejection. However this time he is taken on, and he comes home many hours later, filthy and in considerable pain after the backbreaking work of carrying coal sacks. Mostly this scene is mainly of how they met at the Bolton dance hall in the 1920s and then started seeing one another, eventually they were married after she fell pregnant with a baby boy who they would name as Lionel. Joe is still obsessed with a posh girl called Mary Carlisle, with whom he had been in love since he was seven years old whilst being jealous of Madge’s first lover who he eventually finds out who it is Gussy an old dancing friend.
The Visitor leaves another message about not trampling over others to get what you want which is quite apparent in the way Joe gets his job and how Madge reacts to this. And it’s not really difficult to guess the relationship between the Visitor and Joe.
Nicholas Shaw, Fiona Hampton and David Fleeshman give an excellent performance, with recorded voice performances from Maxine Peake as Clara the "knocker-up" trying to wake next door neighbour Albert, voiced by Peter Kay.
An amazing, witty also quite a moving play, a must see for all Bill Naughton lovers. At nearly 2 hours long with a fantastic storyline and a captivating performance by the cast you do not notice time passing by at all as you was totally engrossed.
Overall a great evening in a lovely theatre.
For more information or to book tickets online visit www.octagonbolton.co.uk