One For The Road - performed March 1995

By Willy Russell

Performed with the kind permission of Samuel French

Director - Rosamund Pettett


(in order of appearance)

Dennis Cain Andy Dyer
Pauline Cain Alison Baker
Roger Fuller David Jefferies
Jane Fuller Linda Gatt

Production Team

Rosamund Pettett, Jude Hussey, Derek Butcher, Alan Wheeler, Bruce Emeny, Maurice Barber, Paul Spendley, Greg Garrad, Alan Laurie, Nancy Galsworthy, Val Taylor, Jenny Glayzer, Chris Wheeler, Viv Wheatley, Patience Ling, and all other volunteers not mentioned.

The Play

This wickedly observant comedy by the author of Educating Rita finds Dennis, on the eve of his thirty fifth birthday, making a last ditch attempt to break away from his middle class existence. Imprisoned on Phase Two of the housing estate and surrounded by Tupperware parties, Weight Watchers and wife swapping, he longs to revert to an easy going way of life. He reaches breaking point when neighbours Roger and Jane arrive with presents that epitomise the hated way of life. In between giving directions on the phone to his parents lost in the maze of bungalows and keeping his vandalising aerosol sprays hidden, Dennis attempts to pack a rucksack. When he finds that Jane, Roger and his wife want to come too, he sinks in front of the TV, unable to make his escape. But there is always next year . . . and the year after.


The notice on the wall of the auditorium, repeated in the programme, suggested that some of the language used in the play might offend. It is true that Willy Russell often treads on sensitive corns pretty heavily and in no uncertain manner, and that the sham façade of modern living on a cheek-by-jowl housing estate is mercilessly exposed in very funny, but ultimately sad, manner. The keeping up with the Joneses by the acquisition and demonstration of all the household paraphernalia of today is vividly illustrated, and the mores and morals of typical couples ruthlessly crucified.
A neat, compact set further underlines the ethos of the piece, and the quartet of players all have something to offer Andy Dyer, new to me, plays Dennis with a wry wistfulness that is very appealing – except for an apparently ingrained habit of eyebrow raising and rapidly blinking eyes in a head that never seems still for a moment. The timing, however is exact and the body language underlines the character well. Alison Baker is a joy as his wife Pauline, giving the dialogue pace and filled with a passion to be accepted in the modernity stakes. Her body language, too, is redolent of modern living on this kind of estate. We never see the expected parents, though their lost whereabouts are significant of the generation gap. However, guest couple Roger and Jane Fuller are played by David Jefferies and Linda Gatt with splendid aplomb Altogether a very secure and pointedly angled production.
Jimmy James

Never mind the play, what about the audience? The latest offering from this talented Manningtree-based group is, as ever, well acted, ably presented and highly amusing but not as well supported as it should be. There are only five performances of Willy Russell’s One For The Road, yet on Wednesday evening about a third of the seats in the Manifest Theatre were not taken. Performances for the previous production, The House of Frankenstein, had to be cancelled through lack of support, no doubt the title putting off some theatre-goers. But this cannot be the cause this time and in the past tickets for Manifest productions generally sold out very quickly.
Although billed as an adult play and carrying a warning in the programme that some language might offend, there was nothing to make anyone throw up their arms in disgust – a recent poster near Manningtree market advertising a film was far more risqué! It must have been disappointing for the cast to look out and see so many empty seats but they still gave their all, although it has to be said the two women, Alison Baker and Linda Gatt, outshone their male counterparts.
Lesley Pallett

Photo Shoot

If you have any photos from this production, then please let us know.