Review: Cracking start to Hasland Theatre Company’s 70th season

Billy  (James Bryan) during one of his many scoldings by his father, Geoffrey Fisher  (David Brooks) with Mother, Alice Fisher  (Nicky Beards). Photo by Graham Martin.
Billy (James Bryan) during one of his many scoldings by his father, Geoffrey Fisher (David Brooks) with Mother, Alice Fisher (Nicky Beards). Photo by Graham Martin.

Seventy years of entertaining the public is a feat worth celebrating - and Hasland Theatre Company do so in style this week with a play chosen by its loyal followers.

The milestone season has launched with Billy Liar, last performed in 1974.

Young blood ensures that the future of the company is in safe hands while the expertise of time-served troupers underpins the wickedly funny comedy.

James Bryan shines in the lead role as workshy fantasist Blly Fisher who clashes with his dad, invents tall tales to impress the girls and his pal who is played by Ed Telfer.

Billy’s penchant for the ladies lands him in hot water as he dodges between two fiancees - beautifully played by Lilly Beards as rough Rita, all lip and leopardskin, and Beth Raynor as prim homebird Barbara.Free-spirited Liz (confidently played by newcomer Georgia Weston) lures Billy off to London - but for how long?

David Brooks and Nicky Beards are cast as Billy’s parents - dad is overbearing and swears a lot, mum is a strong Yorkshire woman who is prepared to defend her mollycoddled boy to the hilt.

Rachel Schofield is captivating in her role as gran, the audience wincing at her pain as she hobbles onto the stage and chuckling as she addresses views on Billy’s upbringing to the sideboard.

Billy Liar is a well-crafted production which is directed by Olivia Brooks and runs at Hasland Playhouse until Saturday, September 17.