Seasons in the Sun – Review – East Riding Theatre
By Karl Hornsey, April 2018
John Godber’s latest production arrived at the East Riding Theatre in Beverley this week, and fans of his work will be delighted with another slice of life Godber-style.
Set in the summer of 1974 in West Yorkshire, Seasons in the Sun focuses on two students, Spag and Paul, who take temporary work as binmen while waiting for their A-level results. While at the council depot they meet site foreman Stan and exemplary unblocker-of-drains Sammy, with much of the humour coming from the generational clash between the characters, while each setpiece is interspersed with snippets of music from the time, from Abba and Queen to Hot Chocolate and Barry White.
This play has Godber’s touch all over it, using elements from his own life, especially the locations, to recreate a time when political correctness was unheard of, and the artistic aspirations of the students were something to be kept secret for fear of ridicule.
“Grow into their roles”
The down-to-earth comedy is there throughout, mixed with scenes of tragedy and pathos, handled well by a varied cast of just six. Of those six, the star for me was Adrian Hood, who plays Sammy, displaying outstanding comic timing to deliver his carefully chosen thoughts on the world, and putting the tribulations of the others into perspective. Hood seems equally at home in farcical situations, as much as being able to end a scene with a withering comment or two.
Alongside Hood and fellow veteran Dave MacCreedy, are four youngsters still making their ways in the acting world, including the two main protagonists, played by Jake Marsden and Matthew Galloway, who grow into their roles as the drama continues. For Marsden, Galloway and the other cast members Sade Malone and Martha Godber, this is a fantastic opportunity to cut the teeth on a John Godber script and with such experienced talent as MacCreedy and Hood to learn from.
“Well worth watching”
I found the second half drifted on a little, as Spag and Paul came to the end of the summer as binmen, unsure as to which directions their lives would take. The comedy is generally sustained, with some genuine laugh out loud moments, but the death of one of the characters and events of huge significance to Spag and Paul are passed over as seemingly inconsequential, and would have benefited from greater depth, without taking away the essence of the production.
Godber has created such a fantastic catalogue of work, of the highest quality and an impressive quantity, and this latest addition is well worth watching at the wonderful ERT, as even with the shortcoming mentioned, any work by Godber is a cut above most others.