Godfrey's Last Stand introduced Northern theatre audiences to the charming character of Godfrey Shackleton - would-be international cricket
umpire, avowed socialist and lottery winner.
The play, created by Calderdale playwright Alan Stockdill for his company Talking Stock Productions back in 2014, took theatres by storm.
And now, Godfrey’s back, eager for more adventures in Godfrey’s Last Love (Bring me Sunshine), which will premiere at the Viaduct Theatre, Dean Clough, Halifax, on Wednesday, February 17.
The sequel tells the tale of how Godfrey, celebrating his win with a lads’ trip to Morecombe, meets up with a twinkly widow, Betty, who is visiting the Lancashire resort with the Clitheroe Conservative Club ladies’ bowling team. Predictably, the course of true love never runs entirely smoothly, as another playwright once said. Will Godfrey and Betty bring each other sunshine? Can Godfrey bowl her over?
Alan says his new play is all about love in the third age and although it follows Godfrey’s Last Stand, it is a stand-alone play.
“You don’t need to have seen the last one to appreciate this,” he explained. “What I love about it is that the actors in it are from every different generation. Betty is 80, Godfrey is in his 70s, I’m in my 60s, Godfrey’s daughter is in her 30s and we have a new graduate in the cast who is in his 20s.”
Huddersfield actor Keith Royston takes the title role once again and is partnered with Marion Reynolds as Betty. Both are regulars on stage at the Halifax Playhouse and Keith is an old hand with Huddersfield Thespians.
New drama graduate Todd Wilson takes his first role with Talking Stock, while Sharon Kelly returns as Godfrey’s daughter Donna and Alan himself plays best mate Freddy Fitton.
Alan only began writing drama a few years ago and still has a day job selling commercial laundry equipment to hospitals and care homes. His first plays Deathwatch and The Last Memory looked at the topic of dementia. He formed Talking Stock in 2013 with actress and producer Catherine Pasek. In 2014 he wrote the award-winning tale of three war veterans who want to revisit the battlefields of France. Le Grand Return won Best New Writing Award at the Manchester Festival Fringe, which Alan says was a wonderful surprise.
He explained: “Festivals are full of bright young things and cutting edge work so it was nice for a play about three old guys living in a nursing home to win at the festival fringe.”
Talking Stock is a philanthropic theatre company that has raised over £11,000 for local branches of charities. Previous shows have been taken out into community venues, such as care homes and cricket clubs. He would like to do the same with all Talking Stock productions. “I think that’s where the future of theatre is. How it used to be; performed in the community,” he said.
After the two night opener at Dean Clough Godfrey’s Last Love is embarking on a short tour of Northern towns. Performances at Halifax Playhouse and in Dobcross are already sold out, so it’s first come, first served for seats at other venues, including the Viaduct. To book, visit wegottickets.com/talkingstock or call 07785 530129.