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Review: Ladies in Lavender

Audiences will delight in this well-balanced production by Jamesine Cundell Walker who has drawn out genuine sentiments which are endearing but never cloying.

The set, designed by Robin Green, cleverly combines the ladies living room, garden, a bedroom and the seashore which is animated by the sound of waves breaking on the shingle.

Two sisters befriend a mysterious young man, Andrea, who washes up on the beach near their house on the Cornish coast. It is 1937 and strangers are rare in this part of England so when they realise that he is also a foreigner there is some mistrust amongst the local community. Here are two fine actresses Ruth Evans as the elder more practical sister Janet, and Gilly Rogers as Ursula with her almost childlike delight in the small pleasures of their lives – cocoa at bedtime with maybe a naughty biscuit on a weekday night. Ursula has been starved of the experiences of both romantic and motherly love and when Andrea offers her the opportunity to express these pent-up feelings she blossoms. Janet enjoys being able to look after the young man but takes a more pragmatic and sensible approach. The impression is of two ladies who have lived together so long they can almost read each other’s thoughts.

It was a lovely surprise to find how much humour there is in this play which brought fresh and relaxed laughter from the audience. Louise Wildman as Dorcas, the sisters’ housekeeper and general maid of all work is a delight to watch whether she is hanging out the washing or emptying “the Po “:- a Cornish woman of spirit with a strong streak of practical common sense. Rick Hylands Andrea has charm and a seductive physicality that underpins the attraction felt by Ursula and Janet and is a factor in Russian painter Olga’s desire to help him. Becky Kordowicz brings us an Olga who is exotic, and a stark contrast to the Cornish locals. This foreignness tempts Dr Mead played with a depth of understanding by Steve Charlton who shows us a lonely man somewhat isolated by his role in the community and ultimately giving way to petty behaviour.

This is an endearing and tender story. Ladies in Lavender offers us a high quality beautifully crafted comfort blanket in a time when we all need a little safety and warmth.

Ladies in Lavender is at Ilkley Playhouse from March 5 to 14, tickets are available from or


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