Reform Theatre Company, Cramphorn, 16th October 2009
Jim Hutchon was there ...
Reform Theatre’s Happy Jack follows the Company's long tradition of revisiting John Godber’s plays – especially his earlier ones. Director Keith Hukin has taken a very light and deft touch to this 1982 work, Happy Jack, an evocation of the love and respect Godber felt for his grandparents. In Reform’s best style, the set is a bare stage with a pair of kitchen chairs and two actors, Annie Sawle as Liz, the grandmother, and Roger Butcher as Jack, her husband.
Both have superb sense of timing, especially in the scenes of sharp exchange between any well-worn in couple, and Annie Sawle, especially, creates an enigmatic figure as a wife struggling under great odds and increasing ill-health. Roger Butcher,as Jack, is a typical product of unambitious northern manhood, preferring fists to solve arguments, and seemingly oblivious of any need for anyone. His candid admission of crying himself to sleep following the death of Liz is all the more poignant for this.
The play is structured round a series of pages from a non-existent biography and, revolutionary at the time, starts with the death of the grandmother and works backwards. Playing to a packed Cramphorn audience, it is part of the Jack/Liz trilogy which Godber wrote early in his career, and is Reform’s tenth anniversary production since Keith Hukin set up the company in 1998 with a production of Godber’s April in Paris.