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One For The Road at Limelight Theatre

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Play from Educating Rita author rages against middle age
One For The Road, Limelight Theatre, Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine, play, comedy, performing arts, stage, Willy Russell
One For The Road features Christine Smith, left, Gordon Park, Fiona Forster and Chris Juckes trying to celebrate a 50th birthday.


Limelight Theatre is going back to the '80s with its latest production, a comedy from Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine playwright Willy Russell. Directed by James Hough-Neilson, One For The Road finds Dennis on the eve of his 50th birthday making a last-ditch attempt to break away from the confines of his middle-class, housing-estate existence.

Reaching breaking point at his birthday party, he packs a rucksack to make his escape but everyone else wants to join him and the freedom of the open road. "One for the Road is set in the 1980s in a suburban English bungalow," James said.

One For The Road, Limelight Theatre, Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine, play, comedy, performing arts, stage, Willy Russell
Roger Fuller (Chris Juckes, left) and Pauline Cain (Christine Smith) in a scene from One For The Road.

"The people living there are first-generation middle class and happy to let everyone know they have come up in the world. They flaunt their new gadgets which were new in the '80s and their language and prejudices belong in that era where political correctness was barely heard of.

"The first challenge was getting the right four actors and, once I had cast them, the Limelight Theatre machine swung into action with the help and expertise of President Shelley McGinn who is production assistant on the show. Everything is falling into place very nicely."

One For The Road, Limelight Theatre, Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine, play, comedy, performing arts, stage, Willy Russell
James Hough-Neilson is directing One For The Road at Limelight Theatre.


A professional actor, on and off, for the past 68 years, James has a wealth of experience behind him and then some. He studied at London Drama School, then spent three years learning and performing a play a week in repertory theatre and appeared in the number one West End play Summer Seasons. Numerous UK television appearances followed, along with radio work and various commercials.

In WA, James has worked with Stirling, Limelight and Playlovers Theatres over the past 26 years, performing in or directing productions such as Breaker Morant, Showboat, The Sound of Music, Phantom of the Opera, My Fair Lady, The Importance of Being Earnest, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Hobson's Choice. His 2006 production of The Judas Kiss at Playlovers received best director, best play, best costumes and best supporting actor accolades at the annual Finley Awards.

"I actually directed One For The Road about 15 years ago at Stirling Theatre," James said. "Although dated in some ways, the comedy is inescapable which makes the rehearsals great fun for all involved."

One For The Road, Limelight Theatre, Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine, play, comedy, performing arts, stage, Willy Russell
Fiona Forster, left, Christine Smith, Gordon Park and Chris Juckes in One For The Road.


Gordon Park plays Dennis. "He has begun to realise life is passing him by and that he has a pent-up desire to break free from the constraints of his routine life in suburbia," Gordon said.

"The main challenge is bringing the wonderful dialogue to life in the way Willy Russell intended it. So much of what Dennis says is sincere yet funny, so it's important to get that balance right."

One For The Road, Limelight Theatre, Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine, play, comedy, performing arts, stage, Willy Russell
Pauline (Christine Smith, left) tries to prevent her husband Dennis (Gordon Park) escaping through the window.


Involved in theatre for the past 30 years, Gordon came to WA in 1988 and has performed in a plethora of productions with Limelight, Playlovers, Stirling, Harbour, Old Mill, Rockingham and Marloo Theatres. "One For The Road appealed because it's a brilliant script written by one of England's finest playwrights," Gordon said. "It's a comedy that has a profound message for any of us who have fallen into a routine on life's journey."

One For The Road plays at 8pm April 1, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17 with a 2pm matinee April 10. Tickets are $23, $20 concession and $17 children book at www.limelighttheatre.com.au or call 0499 954 016 between 9am and 12pm, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Limelight Theatre is on Civic Drive, Wanneroo.


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Why? Plenty of laughs with themes that are still relevant today and it will undoubtedly strike a chord with many middle-aged suburban couples.
When: 8pm April 1, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 & 17; 2pm April 10
Phone: 0499 954 016
Where: Limelight Theatre, Civic Drive, Wanneroo
Cost: $23, $20 concession, $17 children
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