Last month our local historian Alan Cattell wrote an article on Lily Cove the aeronaut buried in 1906 at Haworth. This coincided with a play partly covering Lily’s exploits written by locally born journalist Sharon Wright. Alan was curious to see the play and below is his review:
“Friller” – The Play – Haworth Festival – Lily Cove
Had a magic (or was it ghostly?) night out at Haworth Festival in June watching Sharon Wright’s play “Friller”. Having written local history articles on and helped Sharon in a small way as regards research into one of the plays main characters, Lily Cove I bought tickets for the play, not knowing quite what to expect!
Lily was an aeronaut jumping from a balloon (at 700 feet) and parachuting down to earth. Unfortunately whilst performing as the main attraction at Haworth Gala in June 1906 she was killed in the attempt and now lies buried in Haworth. Anyway…. back to the play…….
It opens with Peg Mythenroyd barmaid at the Old White Lion, Haworth sweeping the bar when suddenly the Ghost of Lily Cove appears and the two engage in conversation. Lily talks about her adventurous life and Peg bewails the boredom of hers, wishing she was instead a dancer at the Folies Bergère! They are joined on stage by the ghosts of Branwell , Patrick, Emily and Charlotte Brontë and Frederick Bidmead, Lily Cove’s manager, all recapping good and bad moments of their lives and encouraging Peg the barmaid to follow her dream. Bob Smith, photographer on the Keighley News appears as himself, keen for a news story and photographs!
Sharon Wright first came across the story of Lily Cove whilst a cub reporter at the Keighley News, when she wrote an article about her. Sharon now lives and works in London as a Journalist and is the Founder of Narky Knickers Theatre Company, members of whom performed the play at Haworth Festival. Friller manages to provide comedy, pathos, historical fact and a musical interlude in a fast paced (sometimes too fast to fully appreciate the subtlety of the humour!) and quirky play. Notable amongst these are references and jibes about local villages and towns such a Haworth, Oakworth, Bingley and Keighley, which were all appreciated by the local audience. The play is extremely well written and perhaps the only downside was that it was over too quickly! Sharon assured me that fringe theatre is often short and snappy but that she does intend to extend the play.
Adam Wollerton managed to blend a local story, with actors from out of town into a congruent and enchanting dialogue which captured audience imagination and interest. The approach left us waiting for more, when the play had actually ended! Personally I would love to have a copy of the script so that I could recap on the bits that I missed due to the speed of dialogue.
And the Players
Hannah White as Lily was larger than life (which as a ghost takes some doing!) and provided a believable link with the other ghosts and a great singing voice to the one song of the play. Olivia Cole as Peg gave an earthy counterpart to the dialogue of the ghosts and a touch local humour and continuity. David Jacobson portraying the showman Bidmead provided a robust portrayal of “roll upedness” and Jeremy Preston gave a reflective tragic-comic l performance as Branwell Brontë. Barry Rocard looked and sounded the part of Patrick Brontë with a strong stage presence and evocative Irish accent. Emma Rose as Emily and Charlotte Knowles as Charlotte both gave humorous, insightful and thoughtful interpretations of their characters. Each of the actors worked well with each other which added to the audience enjoyment of the play.
Thanks…. To the Director and Cast for a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Thanks also to Sharon for your insight and your humour. You haven’t lost any of your” Yorkshireness” and I look forward to your next play with eager anticipation. Keep them coming!
Alan Cattell – Bingley – June 2014