Sunday 17 June 2018

A Month of Sundays

On the first Sunday of every month, John Cooper’s daughter and son-in-law come to see him. The visits are seldom a success. Cooper’s conversation tends towards jokes about ageing and senility, their talk revolves around their challenging journey. The grandson has stopped visiting.

Photography: Barry Parsons

This gentle, observant, hilarious, poignant play, from the pen of Bob Larbey (The Good Life, A Fine Romance) has been delighting audiences during the first few performances. Here are some very good reasons to come along and see for yourself.

Tickets are available from St George's Music Shop, in person or by phone, or online from Ticketsource. Click here for full details.

"One of the best plays I’ve ever seen. The writing, direction, storyline and acting terrific. I cried." James T

"Fantastic play!! Every element was stunning...acting, set, light and sound, the writing... flawless. Would heartily recommend!" Verity R

"Just been to see a Month of Sundays at Sewell Barn theatre. A brilliant show. A tour de force. Fantastic. Don’t miss it." Jane K

"It’s getting a bit boring, all this excellence from the Sewell Barn. Never anything to be cleverly critical about. Last night the same - a very good play worked by six top-class actors, who seemingly effortlessly kept us enthralled, laughing and sometimes crying, in a gentle but so-effective study of the poignancy of twentieth-century humanity’s handling of the inevitable, but never-prepared-for, descent from vigour and loss of riches, physical and mental. Human triumphs here are real and far more glorious than those of the 'newsworthy’ material world, and yet less appreciated than ever by most ages in today’s more youth-centred culture. This play can only help to keep us sensitive and generous in our fuller understanding of the true dimensions of life.

Mandy Kiley’s uncertainly-loved daughter, Chritopher Whitley’s well-meaning struggling son-in-law, and the two members of staff, played by Ruby Barrett and Janet Clay, gave us a full play’s-worth of properly-paced fascinating human emotion; yet, as well as this we were swept along from the beginning in the absolutely sure and talented hands of David White, as the bright-minded trenchant Cooper, courageous in the face of his own fears, memories, and resignations, and startled into pathos by Ralph Yarrow’s keenly-felt developing self-awarenesses. Some wonderful relationships throughout, and portrayals of kindliness and helping human spirit at its best.

I used the word “effortlessly” - of course it’s not. High praise, not so much for the undoubted talent, but for for the work, and the skill, of actors and director, developing these splendid onstage empathies in whose warmth we basked; and thanks as always to the multitude of unseen workers making it all possible." Rob F-W

"Just wow. That was beautiful and heartbreaking and uplifting all at once. Well done all involved in A Month of Sundays." Megan R

"Saw 'A Month of Sundays' on the first night. It was humorous, poignant, sad, and like many Sewell Barn productions, keeps you in discussion for several days later. Great direction from Mel Sessions, and all of the cast were equally brilliant. A great evening's entertainment." MC

"A Month of Sundays was full of humanity and beautifully executed by a stunning cast. Totally believable, wonderful relationships between the characters, very funny and moving. I’m sure the large group I attended with will echo this as well. Well done to all!" Barnaby M

"Absolutely loved it, every single character and direction." Paula M

"I went to the opening night of A Month of Sundays and highly recommend that you do the same! As a commentary on the human condition, Bob Larbey's insights into the experience of growing old are beautifully conveyed by a very strong cast. The dialogue is witty and the audience laughs in recognition and then, in a sharp twist of mood is left silent, also in recognition. Mel Sessions has directed the piece with brilliant attention to detail and the set reflects perfectly the arid nature of a care home. The play consists of a series of scenes whereby John Cooper, a long term resident, encounters his regular visitors: a nurse, a cleaner, his best friend and his daughter and her husband. In each scene, small talk is the order of the day but through this emerges truth and love and sadness. Cooper's wit is, as he says himself, "mordant", he is irascible and stubborn but David White, in a wonderfully impressive performance (he is on stage throughout) shows us the vulnerability and determination of the man. Ruby Barrett as Nurse Wilson plays the role with a sweetness and lightness of touch and this contrasts very effectively with Janet Clay's Mrs Baker, the rough and ready cleaner - it is clear, in their very different ways, that both women have a soft spot for Cooper. Mandy Kiley and Christopher Whitley make a marvellous daughter and son in law and there is great humour in both their scenes as they bemoan the traffic jams of the A5. At the same time, it is clear to see the underlying pain and awkwardness in the relationship between father and daughter. Finally, we have Ralph Yarrow as Aylott, Cooper's fellow member of the "escape committee". The sense of the two of them battling against the system and their own physical and mental deterioration is communicated with great humour and warmth. Congratulations to all the cast and crew for another addition to a fantastic Sewell Barn season!" Clare W [Joint Artistic Director]

"So very happy to have seen the splendid A Month of Sundays last night. Bob Larbey's writing is gentle, observant, poignant and often hilarious; the setting is beautifully and accurately created; the direction sensitive, intelligent and effective. The six actors present creations full of integrity and truth. Every single actor inhabits their role completely and with affection; the result is that we truly care about each one of them, whether we meet them for a few minutes or the entire play. The whole ensemble is deserving of enormous praise; but David White's performance as Cooper (a mammoth role of Lear proportions) is a masterclass in timing, stagecraft and beautiful character work. This is high-class theatre on every level. Thank you to Mel Sessions and her team for bringing Cooper's little world to life, and for making us laugh and cry in equal measure." Cassie T [Joint Artistic Director]