A special production of John Godber’s Happy Jack is being performed at the New Vic this April to celebrate the Victoria Theatre Company’s 60th anniversary of theatre making.
Happy Jack, Godber’s very first play written when he was 25, will feature double BAFTA and multi award-winning couple, John Godber and Jane Thornton (Scary Bikers, Shafted, Sunny Side Up!) in the show which brought them together over forty years ago.
They play lifelong lovers Jack, a stoical, stubborn and truculent miner, and Liz, his effusive optimistic long-suffering wife. Between them, they rub along in an old-fashioned marriage, creating lasting memories with an affection for each other that is as deep as the pit Jack works in. They are a working class couple who don’t ask for much, and who are learning to live with what little they have.
Happy Jack vividly captures life at the coalface, in the pit village, on the donkeys and by the fireside. These were the halcyon years before the Miners’ Strike, but life was hard, money was scarce and everything was a struggle. It aches with the ups and down of ordinary family life – making for a political, but also hilarious and touching performance.
Performed at the New Vic from Thursday 21 April to Saturday 30 April, it is a bespoke production from the John Godber Company to celebrate 60 years of theatre making in the round in Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Staffordshire by the Victoria Theatre Company – part of a year-long series of events to mark the special anniversary.
Writer and director John Godber said: “Happy Jack obviously means so much to Jane and I because it was the play that brought us together. It is essentially a love story told backwards, about a couple who found it difficult to say I love you. The surrounding hinterland to the play is industrial hardship, lack of ambition, thwarted opportunities and a life with little or no disposable income. But the knowledge of continuous work gave the miners of the past something to take pride in. All that has gone, though the hardships of the past may just be beginning to bite again as we look towards an uncertain future. The play is a memory play, which recalls imprecisely a marriage that spans fifty years. The ups and downs and the joys and sadness within a relationship are timeless. What the play manages to achieve in a short space of time illustrates a whole proud, loving community which sadly is no longer with us.”
Happy Jack will take to the stage at the New Vic from Thursday 21 to Saturday 30 April 2022. For more information and to book call the Box Office on 01782 717 962 or visit newvictheatre.org.uk
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