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The Darling Buds of May at ETC

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by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce (subscribe)
Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
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Tax avoider seduces tax collector in comic romp
In 1957 a middle-aged man was sitting in his car waiting for his wife. He wrote about what happened next: "I noticed outside the shop a ramshackle lorry that had been recently painted electric blue. Two or three minutes later there came out of the shop, in high spirits, a remarkable family: father, a perky, sprightly character with dark sideburns; ma, a youngish, handsome woman of enormous girth, wearing a bright salmon jumper and shaking with laughter like a jelly; and six children, the eldest of them a beautiful dark-haired girl of 20 or so." (extract from The World in Ripeness)

The Darling Buds of May, HE Bates, Ellenbrook Theatre Company, Larkin, Perfick
Ma (Meredith Corr) and Pop Larkin (Richard Hadler) in The Darling Buds of May (Photograph by Immaculate Photography)


The lorry started up and drove out of sight, but not out of mind, for the man in the car was Herbert (H.E.) Bates, the author. So intrigued was he by this glimpse of family life that he started to write about them that very evening. He named them the Larkin family - Pop, Ma and the beautiful daughter, Mariette.

What started out as a short story rapidly became a novel - The Darling Buds of May, published the next year, then a movie The Mating Game in 1959, then a TV series starring Sir David Jason and Catherine Zeta-Jones (1991-93) and finally a stage play, which is Ellenbrook Theatre Company's mid-season offering.

The Darling Buds of May, HE Bates, Ellenbrook Theatre Company, Larkin, Perfick
Richard Hadler, Peter Boylen, Giordarna Rigoli and Dominic Masterson (Photograph by Immaculate Photography)


Directed by Andrew Hemstock, the play is a standard, feel-good comedy.

The story is simple. Pop Larkin (Richard Hadler) has a flexible attitude to Her Majesty's Collectors of tax and when earnest, dutiful Mr Charlton comes calling to claim Her Majesty's due, he is bewitched by Ma and Pop's eldest daughter, the delectable Mariette. Complications ensue ... it's a charming, delightful, gentle comedy sure to please.

The Darling Buds of May, HE Bates, Ellenbrook Theatre Company, Larkin, Perfick
Richard Hadler, Peter Boylen, Giordarna Rigoli and Dominic Masterson (Photograph by Immaculate Photography)


The short season runs from an evening performance at 7:30pm on Friday the 15th of April, followed by two matinees at 2:30pm on the Saturday (16th) and Sunday (17th). Tickets cost $20 and are available from the Trybooking website.

The play is suitable for audiences over the age of twelve. All photographs by Immaculate Photography.

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Why? Charming country comedy
When: 7:30pm and 2:30pm (Matinees) prompt
Where: Ellenbrook Performing Arts Centre, 100 Main Street, Ellenbrook
Cost: $20 (Concession $16)
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