Breezeblock Park - performed May 1993

By Willy Russell

Performed with the kind permission of Samuel French

Director - Val Taylor


(in order of appearance)

Betty Val Taylor
Syd Nigel Lister
Sandra Rosamund Pettett
Tommy Chris Mason
Vera Sarah McCarthy
Reeny Linda Gatt
Ted Roger Licence
John Chris Mead
Tim Kevan Porter

Production Team

Sarah McCarthy, Jude Hussey, Jenny Rollings, Bruce Emeny, Maurice Barber, Greg Garrad, Alan Laurie, Derek Butcher, Jenny Glayzer, Chris Wheeler, Sue Smith, Sue Steer, Gill Baxter, Patience Ling, Viv Wheatley, and other volunteers not mentioned.

The Play

Despite concealed jealousies, three married couples, 'superior' council house-dwellers, consider themselves a close-knit team. But when one of their daughters, Sandra, announces she is pregnant and is going to live unmarried with her student lover, Tim, all hell breaks loose. Will Sandra face up to her responsibilities or walk out on them all?


Willy Russell’s course-grained but undeniably funny and ultimately agonising comedy is a compelling dissection of the ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ principle of materialism that bites even more sardonically in these times of recession. The comic mileage that arises from the uses to which the mis-application of a vibrator can be put and the pregnancy of a daughter sharply dividing make and female into the age-old battle of the sexes, takes up much of the first half.
The latter part of this first-rate, outspoken play however has genuine pathos and confrontation mixed in with the preoccupation with the outward and visible signs of relative prosperity, and Val Taylor’s cast, perhaps a trifle unbalanced in terms of age, probe deeply into the essential guts of the play without sacrificing its laughter potential.

The director herself plays Betty, the frustrated wife and mother seeking comfort and compensation from tangible symbols of material acquisition, with immaculate timing and projection. Her lover for, and confrontation with, the fretting-at-life daughter Sandra, played woundingly by Rosamund Pettett in absolute tune with the period, the place and the situation, is spellbinding and the interaction between them both truly compelling. Nigel Lister take over the easy-going Syd to validate at least one reason for Betty’s bitterness and Chris Mason’s foul-mouthed Tommy goes in all guns blazing to create a powerful impression. The voluptuous Sarah McCarthy is very much a port-and-lemon warm-hearted lady as Vera and Linda Gatt’s piping voice gives her self-satisfied, envious Reeny a veneer of validity, especially in that outrage of a tawny fur coat. The know-all Ted is catalogued by Roger Licence in all his infuriating smugness and Chris Mead balances his valium-induced submissiveness with a strikingly rebellious outburst. Kevan Porter’s student interloper Tim, anxious to ‘do the right thing,’ suggests another source of origin to that conveyed by the accents of the family circle.
All in all, a perceptive and intuitive production.
Jimmy James

Talented lot gets better and better

THE Manifest Theatre Group’s latest production is one of their funniest ever. Breezeblock Park by Willy Russell was billed as an adult comedy and the programme carried a warning that some of the language might offend, leaving the audience wondering what to expect. But faint hearts need not have worried and those hopeful of seeing something they should not were to be disappointed. What they did get was another highly entertaining evening from this exceptionally talented amateur group, whose reputation increases with every production. The laughs came thick and fast in this two-act play, which ended on a rather quieter note as the daughter of a working-class family, struggling to better herself, was caught in the oldest trap.

The cast was superb and despite some lengthy dialogue there was only one noticeable prompt during Tuesday night’s performance while lapses in the Liverpudlian accent were few and far between. Attention to detail was shown in the 70s hairstyles and the flared trousers.
The play was again produced and directed by Val Taylor, who was also a leading member of the cast. What can one say of her, which has not been said before? She must sometimes feel embarrassed as being singled out when she would probably prefer the spotlight on others, but she was outstanding. She was ably backed by the other eight of whom one, Rosamund Pettett, as daughter Sandra, was making her Manifest debut, Three others were relative newcomers. For Roger Licence (Ted) it was his first ever acting role, although he had previously appeared with the group as a dancer, and for Sarah McCarthy (Vera) and Linda Gatt (Reeny) it was their second play.
Lesley Pallett

Photo Shoot

(Back Row) Roger, Chris Mead, Nigel, Kevan, Chris Mason
(Front Row) Lucy, Val, Sarah, Rosamund