Last week we told you all about our October play, the first play of our 2018-2019 programme: Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple (female version). If you missed our post click here (opens a new tab)
Our second play, due for performance at the end of January 2019, will be….
by Ron Rose
This is a modern life-comedy about a ladies darts team in Hull and if this rings a bell for anyone that’s because it was produced at Hull Truck in the glory days of John Godber and Gareth Tudor-Price et al. We’re excited to be putting this on, not least because we think it’s a great play but also because it pushes a few boundaries for us. It contains adult themes and has some true to life language in it – not excessive – but if you prefer your entertainment to be totally expletive free then this might not be the one for you or youngsters. That said.. it would be a great shame to miss it.
Double Top is by Ron Rose, a successful Doncaster based scriptwriter and playwright as well as having run a very successful theatre company in Doncaster for many years. His writing has included episodes for ‘Between the Lines’, ‘The Bill’ and ‘Heartbeat’ as well as the political serial ‘Love and Reason’.
Double Top itself has an interesting history. Ron wrote his original version for a David Leland New Play season at the Crucible back in 1976 with a cast of 9 women and 3 men. That ratio of women to men at the time was pretty revolutionary but Leland had already committed to a play with the more usual male-heavy weighting.
As Ron himself puts it “… and that was the story for the next 28 years. Too many women in the cast to fit your standard Rep company. Double Top became my calling card, and it did get me a lot of work as it became the most popular unperformed play in the country!”
But then, around 2001, he got a call from his old mate, John Godber. Ron related the conversation –
“Does tha remember that darts play?” he asked.
“I do,” I replied.
“Does tha fancy doin’ it.’
“Tha’s got five.”
So John Godber programmed it for performance at Hull Truck in 2002 and Ron had to re-write it for just 5 actors, not 12! Gareth Tudor-Price, new to Truck at that time, was to direct the premiere. Gareth told us “I cast the play with Ron and we rehearsed it in the old YPI (Young People’s Institute) on George Street.”
It was here that they developed the play into its current form. As Ron put it “I retained the original simple structure, shifted a number of players off-stage, and required one actor to play all 8 men” thus managing to meet the requirement of a maximum five actors. Gareth told us that “Rob Hudson played all the male characters and in the first few performances we had a stage manager on hand backstage to hand him his ‘next’ character’s costumes and props rather than him dashing about wondering who he was going to be playing next!”
Asking about their inspiration both Rob and Gareth were keen to tell us of the essential research they carried out that involved (no doubt equally essential) drinking in pubs, research they clearly enjoyed. Gareth takes up the story “we were introduced to a local Female Pub Darts Team (The Norland in Hessle) and we went along with them, in their van, to several pub darts matches and their functions. Huge buffets were laid on in every pub….” Ron summed it up more succinctly: “We said it was “research”, but I had the time of my life…. and I got loads of material!”
Gareth told us that the Norland team enjoyed contributing to its development, “they were a really lovely group of ladies who came to see the show five times and became part of the company! None of the actors had worked with each other before, but as you can imagine a terrific ‘company spirit’ quickly established.”
That sounds like a challenge for us then, in fact, it’s an inspiration!
Double Top rehearsals will commence in November, after our current play, and will be performed at the Elloughton Brough Village Hall on 24th, 25th, 26th January 2019. Subscribe to our email or Follow Us on Facebook to ensure you receive updates and announcements of ticket sales. You can read a little more about the play here.