Nay and by gum. This classic Lancashire play, funny and honest, is set in Salford in the 1880s and has remained popular over decades, and this latest production explains why.
It is well served by a cast of 12, presenting commendable team work. They all have their moments in a story about Henry Hobson, widower owner of a shoe-making shop, father of three husband-hunting daughters, and an alcoholic.
Eldest of the sisters is domineering Maggie, played by Tegwen Tucker, not only buxom but classified by dad as “an old maid of 30 past marrying age”.
He could be right except that she asks - no, orders - her dad’s talented but illiterate 18s-a-week shoe maker, Willie, to marry her. Forget love or romance. Willie is forced into a brass ring wedding by a dictatorial wife who then educates him.
As the evening progresses, the acting by Sean Pol McGreevy as Willie starts to dominate even more than the early Maggie. The worm has turned and McGreevy, finding both confidence and ambition, becomes senior partner in what had been Hobson’s business.
Tucker’s Maggie is word-perfect, but it would help catch some of her lines if she slowed down and played more to the audience. Not so much criticism as a suggestion.
Anthony Wise, in a key role as the heavy drinking and overbearing father, Hobson, creates a pathetic loser, and Matt Prendergast, in a lesser role as the doctor called in to treat him, performs superbly.
Felicity McCormack and Charlotte Bayley have the best of the costumes as Maggie’s sisters and they each find a husband in Roger Woods as Albert Prosser and Freddie Beenstock (Robert Rees).
Playwright Harold Brighouse knew these people and has put them on the page - for the Catford company to bring back to life.