Category: Theatre Reviews

After months of virtually no social life at all and living in a cultural desert, it’s all happening at once. Yesterday was the second cultural treat of the week with a trip to see Guys and Dolls at the Royal Exchange Theatre in St. Ann’s Square.

First we went to the Principal Hotel on Oxford Street. It’s had a multimillion £ restoration and I was interested to see what they had done. We had coffee and cake in The Refuge Bar, the name a nod to the original name of the building. It used to be the headquarters of the Refuge Assurance Society, a banking and insurance business that is still running today. The restoration has been well done. The Principal has the look and the feel of a grand Victorian hotel when, in fact, it’s only 21 years old. Just a thought….top picture below….I want a job where I can sit about tapping on my laptop or iPad in the Refuge Bar at The Principal. I’m sure they are all doing something terribly important and profitable.

Coffee and cake done we headed across town to the Royal Exchange. St. Ann’s Square was being dressed with red lanterns in readiness for the Chinese New Year celebrations. This year the actual date is February 16th with the following weekend full of celebrations. And it’s going to be the Year of the Dog. I love the bright red lanterns appearing in the trees on a cold, grey January day, adds a bit of colour to the city and the season.

Guys and Dolls was the Royal Exchange’s Christmas treat. They always do something fun, and usually musical, and if it is well received they extend it before the Spring season starts. This has happened with Guys and Dolls. I thought, because of the ankle problems, I’d missed it but a couple of weeks ago I was passing through and saw that it was extended so I made a phone call home to see who was free and bought tickets there and then. We went to the matinée performance. It’s so good it was sold out and the theatre was packed. With a good story and some wonderful songs, it’s had many revivals across the world, the latest being this one in Manchester.

If you don’t know it, Guys and Dolls is Damon Runyon’s take on the comically, criminal low life of 1940’s New York. It’s about love and unexpected relationships and the story of how to find a place to continue ‘The Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap in New York.’ It first saw the light of day on Broadway in 1950 and transferred to the West End soon after. There was a hugely successful film with Marlon Brando playing Sky Masterson and Frank Sinatra playing Nathan Detroit. Pictures of the deceptively simple set…

This production is notable in that it’s the first production with an all black cast. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be, the ethnic background of the actors does not alter the story or the wonderful music. It’s a flexible piece that lends itself to different settings and interpretations. It was put together by the Royal Exchange and the Talawa Theatre Company, a company that works to promote black actors, producers, directors in the theatre world. It’s amazing to think that in 2018, black people in the UK are still underrepresented in the theatre world.

This production is, it has the be said, wonderful. Well acted, staged, directed and well sung by a talented cast, it’s been playing to sold out houses since it began in December. You have till 3rd February to get a ticket. Good luck with that! Pictures courtesy of the Royal Exchange Theatre and the Talawa Theatre Company. Loved the suits by the way.

Afterwards it was on to dinner at The Indian Tiffin Room on First Street near HOME. It’s one of our favourites. We hit the cocktails. I had a Blueberry Blast and a delicious one with puréed mango, called a Bombay Delight, which was served in something that looked like an old fashioned light bulb.

The lovely people at HOME, Manchester’s theatre, cinema, art gallery complex on First Street were kind enough to invite me to see two of their new season’s productions a couple of weeks ago. And very fine they were too. Look back a few posts and your will see what I thought about them. This blog, which started as a way of organising a few photos for family and friends, is read by many more people than I ever thought. It has been touted as one of the top ten blogs to read if you want to find out about Manchester. I am humbled by this. Social media is huge, something not lost on HOME, and I suspect that’s why I’ve been invited to review somethings. It’s taking my blog in a new direction and I’m grateful for that. It also makes me go see things I might, otherwise, not go to or completely miss.

However, the blog doesn’t pay the bills and work has got busy again and I’m off to Barcelona for a few days soon (hope it calms a little) so I haven’t been able to find time to see other things just yet. Which is a shame because HOME is having its annual ORBIT festival. A series of theatrical events, a lot handpicked from August’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, have been brought to Manchester to entertain, educate and make us think. I’m not sure if I can find the time to see any so I’m not in a position to review any. So, with their permission, I will use their own words to describe the festival…..

Orbit Festival 2017 brings together innovative new work from theatre makers across the globe who want to explore our place in the world. Many of these shows come straight from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, exploring our relationship with the past, how we remember, the stories we tell ourselves and what it is that makes us who we are.

How do we navigate today’s world, forging and challenging our economic, political and social circumstance? What about our plans for the future and the threats to our ideals and aspirations we hold dear and hope will keep us safe?

Like you, these artists are extraordinary. They have their stories; all they need now is you. They want to talk to you about where we are now, where we’ve been and where we are going.

So join us for a journey through what it means to be human in these unstable times.

HOME is a very different arts space. You, probably, won’t see the latest blockbuster movie or one of the huge West End musicals there. The city is well served with venues that do that. And there’s nothing wrong with those particular pieces. I’m happy to watch WICKED as many times as someone wants to take me.

What is shown at HOME is, of course, entertaining. If it didn’t do that people wouldn’t go. But you will also leave having had an experience you won’t get elsewhere in the city. You will leave enriched by the experience, you will have had food for thought and it will certainly give you something to discuss on the tram home.

When you read through the prospectus for an up and coming season at HOME, maybe everything isn’t instantly recognisable or appealing. The thing to do is to be brave and take a punt on something new and provocative. Just give it a go and broaden your mind and experience.

The ORBIT Festival started on 28th September and runs to 14th October. PLEASE, give yourself a treat and log on to follow the link to the ORBIT Festival and try something out. I know you will be pleasantly surprised.

SALT Publicity Image
Photo Credit: The Other Richard

Greg Wohead

My second trip to HOME this week at their kind invitation, this time to see a piece by the GECKO Theatre Company called ‘The Wedding.’

With no preconceptions of what to expect, it had to be one of the most extraordinary evenings I’ve spent in a theatre in a long time. It’s an intoxicating mixture of dance, music and theatre. The day after and I am still buzzing trying to order my thoughts about what I had seen.

It begins with some of the performers arriving, almost being born, down a tube onto a cushion of soft toys. They are issued with a wedding dress. My thoughts were that the dress signified a person’s marriage to society. We ‘wed’ society, work for its good, support it, show it loyalty and society, for its part, takes care of and protects us. Over the next eighty minutes the performers explore this flawed relationship through dance, music and theatre. I may be entirely wrong but that was what I brought away from the evening. Other members of the audience may have a completely different take on it. And that’s no bad thing.

What we did share was an admiration of the stamina and dance and acting prowess of the nine members of ensemble. For the eighty minutes of the performance they throw themselves into the work with a relentless physicality. It was only at the end when I was able to count that there were just nine of them. Off stage there must have been changes, as well choreographed as what we saw on stage, to ready the cast for the next part. I really thought there were many more than nine.

Parts are funny, parts are poignant, parts are disturbing. The scene where one of the performers is interviewed by three passive aggressive people in a cramped, tiny box, causing the interviewee to declare he could not breathe induced a similar reaction in me. The performers dig deep for the final part of the piece with a dramatic conclusion creating a percussive rhythm that spread from the stage through the space to the audience. You could physically feel the dance, almost as if we became as part of it.

It was a unique and complex experience. It was exhilarating and enthusiastic. Sadly, only two more days until it moves on. I will certainly keeping an eye out for when they return to the city. 

In a few days I’ll be going to see Ballet Rambert’s iconic dance performance ‘Ghost Dances’. Having seen it many years ago I’m looking forward to revisiting it. I felt that ‘The Wedding’ has the same potential. Wonderful stuff.

Occasionally my blog allows me to do something special, something I wouldn’t normally get the chance to do. Well it’s happened again this week. I’ve been invited to the press nights of two theatrical events at HOME, Manchester’s contemporary theatre/cinema/art space on First Street.

It seems that HOME has been on its holidays this August, primarily up to Edinburgh where it’s had a high old time trawling the Edinburgh Festival and Festival Fringe for some of the tastiest pieces to show off at HOME to a Manchester audience as the Autumn nights draw in. It’s been a two way process though. The piece I was asked to review for the Manchester Fringe Festival, ‘The Marriage of Kim K’, back in July has been very well received up in the Scottish capital this August.

Last night I was asked to review ‘Letters to Morrissey’ a piece of theatre by Glasgow based Gary McNair. As it had been chosen as being one of the best of the shows on the massive Edinburgh Fringe Festival, by people with an eye for these things, I suspected I would enjoy it but didn’t realise just how much I would do.

First, I have to say I’m not a fan of Morrissey, the Manchester born front man of the iconic band, The Smiths. I know that’s almost heresy in this city but there you are. So when, almost at the start of the evening, Gary McNair, invited anyone who didn’t hold the view that Morrissey was the greatest ever musician to live might want to leave, I wondered if I should. I took a chance and stayed.

As it happens Morrissey’s physical involvement in the evening is minimal, he’s spoken about, written to but never puts in an appearance. It’s set in a dull, depressed, small Scottish town thats only claim to fame is that it’s near Scotland’s preeminent suicide spot. The main character of the piece is a guy who we see in the present but also as a 15 year old, a boy who is introverted and unsure of himself. He doesn’t know what he is or what he wants to do. He is confused and has dark thoughts which appear in his school work. This brings him to the notice, not in a good way, of his teachers and he’s referred to the school’s guidance counsellor. The ‘I’m cool with the kids’ counsellor suggests that the boy finds someone to talk to about his problems. The choice isn’t great. There’s his friend, Jan the Lesbian (that’s how she likes to be known) and his best friend, Tony, who has, we learn, infinity more, and deeper, problems than he does. So he turns to writing to Morrissey in the hope that he will come up with the answers to his problems. As he shares his thoughts and worries with the musician who, stubbornly, won’t reply, we learn more about the boy and his relationships. It would spoil the experience if I told you where it all leads to.

Set in the bedroom of the Morrissey obsessed boy, the piece is dryly witty in some parts, sad and touching in others as we learn more about the boy and his relationships with the other characters in the piece, especially with Tony. It is always absorbing. It’s a powerful monologue, Gary McNair switches from one character to another with consummate ease, his characterisations leaving the audience in no doubt where they are in the story. For it is, indeed, a story we are being told. Having said that I did wonder how much, if any, was autobiographical?

The 65 minute length of the piece passed all too quickly. It’s touching and engaging and, for any 15 year old boys struggling to come to terms with what it’s all about, confirms that, for most of us, it does all come right in the end. I qualify with the word ‘most’ of course. It’s at HOME until this coming Saturday 16th and would be a hour (+5 minutes) very well spent. 

Happy New Year! I know I’m a bit late but have been having some time off everything over the festive season. But am back now.

A few days ago a neighbour knocked at our door brandishing two tickets to see the Tchaikovsky ballet, The Nutcracker, at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. They’d booked the tickets a while ago but our neighbours’ boss wanted him, unexpectedly, up in Edinburgh on the day of the ballet. They were able to book new tickets for another day but the terms and conditions of buying the tickets meant that they couldn’t just swap them and the original ones would just be wasted. Hence him being at our door hoping we had time to go. Some rearrangement of my diary and we could.

The ballet was being performed by the Russian State Ballet of Siberia. They operate out of the city of Krasnoyarsk deep in the centre of Siberia. I’d never heard of the city either. The company is a relatively new one only being created in 1978 by dancers from the illustrious ballet companies in Moscow and St. Petersburg. I have been to only a few ballets so can’t really compare but I must say that it was a very enjoyable afternoon.

The weather is cold and clear in Manchester and we are enjoying ice blue skies. These pictures I took from the bar on the top floor of the Bridgewater Hall, it’s surrounded by some of the best architecture in the city with the Midland Hotel across the street and all the strong geometry of the Central Convention Centre and the modern buildings that surround it.

It’s fun to watch the trams pass by below on the busy stretch of track between St Peter’s Square and Deansgate/Castlefield station.

There was a surprisingly large audience for a Wednesday afternoon. It’s amazing how many people have time to spare on a weekday to go the the ballet. A lot of them were older people. And there were a lot of well to do ‘yummy mummies’ from places like Chorlton and Didsbury and Hale Barns with their well dressed children enjoying one of the last treats of the Christmas season. The ballet is set on Christmas Eve and is a treat to look at.

Some pictures of the inside of the Bridgewater Hall. None of the actual performance as the company doesn’t like its work being unofficially recorded which is fair enough. I was amused by the number of older people surfing the net on their state of the art smart phones. It’s not just the province of the young it seems.

The Nutcracker has a very simple story. It’s Christmas Eve. There’s a party. The daughter of the house is given a Nutcracker doll. She creeps down after the party to see the doll and falls asleep. The doll is transformed into a real soldier and there’s a lot of dancing. And music, a lot of which you will know even if it’s from advertisements on TV. Here’s a little video about the ballet company that will give you some idea of what we saw.

Last night we were out at the Royal Exchange Theatre enjoying the first of the Christmas treats; a trip to see the theatre’s Christmas offering, ‘Sweet Charity.’ While many theatres go for Christmas themed productions or ‘he’s behind you!’ pantomimes, the Royal Exchange bucks the trend with something light but definitely not Christmassy.

This year they chose to do ‘Sweet Charity’, Neil Simon’s bitter sweet story of a dancer in a New York Tango bar’s search for love. It originally was put on in New York, on Broadway in the 60s and transferred to the West End of London soon afterwards. It was turned into a film starring Shirley Maclaine. I’ll not spoil it for anyone who is going to see it by revealing what happens but I left charmed by Charity Hope Valentine’s sweetness but saddened at the same time.

The Royal Exchange have a Christmas hit on their hands. It was sold out on a Tuesday night with people waiting for return tickets. If you’ve not seen it yet, try and book. We had a lovely evening, wandering around the Christmas Markets, had a frosty alfresco dinner at some of the food concessions and a cup of mulled wine before the show. When you look around certain parts of the world and see what’s going on I’m grateful to live here. But why can’t they do the Manchester thing where they are? Anyway….

I’d forgotten how many good tunes there were in this show. The one that had been going through my mind all day was ‘The Rhythm of Life.’ Here’s the number from the film…

I’d completely forgotten that it featured ‘Hey Big Spender.’ In the UK this song is associated with veteran singer, Dame Shirley Bassey who’s wonderful, definitive rendition is a firm karaoke favourite with members of both sexes channelling their inner Shirley regardless of whether they should do so or not. I think when they sing it they can hear Dame Shirley in their heads. News…the rest of us can’t! Here’s the version done by the dancers of the Fandango Tango Ballroom in the movie where some of the dancers, we are led to believe, supplement their earnings by providing extra services. Charity doesn’t we think. The scene was choreographed by Bob Fosse who was always called on when a scene needed a bit of raunch. He did a lot of ‘Cabaret’ and ‘Chicago’ as well.

On Tuesday evening we went to see the Royal Exchange Theatre’s latest production ‘Breaking The Code’ by Hugh Whitmore. It is about the life of Alan Turing, the scientist and mathematician. Although not born in the city, Alan Turing lived here while he did important work on the world’s first programmable computer. And, of course, he died here under bad circumstances. I mentioned him in my last post so I won’t go through that part again. 


I think the Royal Exchange chose this play as it has a local connection and Manchester is European City of Science this year. I thought it was a relatively new play but it was first performed in 1986.


The play bounces backwards and forwards through Turing’s life picking out incidents that led to his work on the first computer. It interwove these incidents with a more in depth look at the events that led to his death. It was interesting to find that Turing was thinking about how to build a computer as far back as 1930. He also predicted the effect that computers would have on our lives which might have been a bit far fetched to an audience in 1986 but was seen as prescient to an audience in 2016 all of whom were probably carrying a small but incredibly powerful computer around in their pockets. 


They play talked about his war work, breaking the Enigma Code and his work on computers. It also mentioned his work on the Fibonacci Sequence that he was working on when he died. For those not familiar with Fibonacci it’s a pattern of numbers. It starts with 1. Then 1+1= 2, 1+2=3, 2+3=5, 3+5=8, 5+8=13 and so on to infinity. It’s a famous sequence of numbers. But it seems to be the sequence that the very universe is based on. You see the sequence in a pine cone, the petals of a flower, the curve of a snail’s shell and everywhere in nature. Turing was working on this connection. If he’d lived what might he have discovered?


The play was excellent, well written, well acted, interesting and enjoyable. It was a good evening. Alan Turing’s death was in the news again recently. He committed suicide back in 1954 when it was discovered that he had had a sexual relationship with another man. Although it was in the privacy of his own home in Wilmslow, it went to trial. He was charged with committing an ‘act of gross indecency.’ He didn’t go to prison as it his first offence (well the first they knew about). He did suffer some indignity but what pushed him over the edge was the loss of his security clearance that meant he couldn’t work on certain projects any more. A couple of years ago he was given a posthumous pardon from the Queen which meant that his ‘crime’ was cleared from the record. Because of that, all men in the UK charged with the same ‘crime’ have been pardoned as well. Too late in many cases of course. But at least it has been done.


Some pictures of the beautiful Royal Exchange Theatre. Always a pleasure to see something in this magnificent, iconic Manchester building.





We were off out last night to see Tennessee Williams’ tour de force play, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, at the beautiful Royal Exchange Theatre. Starring Maxine Peake as Blanche DuBois, it was a sold out performance. Tickets are very difficult to come by. People are queuing for returns in the hope of seeing it. 


The play was first shown on Broadway (that’s New York, not Chadderton) in 1947 and was a critical and audience success. It won prizes and has been shown around the world ever since and was turned into a movie. The latest production is here at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.


The play centres around Blanche DuBois, a member of one of those grand, southern families who had plantations in Mississippi. Over time bad management and bad choices have reduced the land the family owned to the grand plantation house and about 20 acres of land. Just before the play begins that last vestige of the family’s former wealth has finally gone to the creditors. Blanche survived on an English teacher’s salary. At 16 she had married a beautiful young man who ‘wrote poetry’. ‘Wrote poetry’ being a euphanism for his sexual preferences it turns out. Blanche either doesn’t know this or chooses to ignore it until she finds her husband in bed with another man. He commits suicide. Blanche goes into decline making bad financial decisions and even more disasterous choices in men. She moves into a notorious hotel, the Flamingo, in her home town of Laurel, where we are led to believe she supplements her finances by entertaining men. The local army base declare her ‘off limits’ to the young soldiers who are trained there. But things come to a head when she has an affair with one of her students, a young man of 17. She is fond of a drink or six.


All that happens before the play begins and is revealed through the evening. She arrives at her sister’s house in New Orleans with 65 cents and a trunk of expensive clothes from her former life. She plays the grand, southern lady and this annoys her sister’s Polish husband who sees right through her. While she continues her former lifestyle at their expense, the husband is digging into her past. They are trapped in two rooms together in a sticky New Orleans summer and tensions run high. It would be bad to say how it finishes. But if you can, get a ticket and go and see this production. The critics loved it and the audience were on their feet at the end last night. It began at 7 30 last night and I blanched myself when I saw it wouldn’t finish until 10 40. But it was so wonderfully acted and so tense that the time flew by.


Maxine Peake was a triumph. I saw her play Hamlet here back in 2014. That was brilliant but this went up several notches. Ms Peake is one of our most accomplished actors doing work on TV, in films and in the theatre. She could work in London and raise her profile internationally. But she prefers to work in the north and we are grateful she does. It does the London critics no harm to take the train up to Manchester now and again.


I couldn’t decide if I felt sorry for Blanche or was she a monster? Bit of both I suppose. At one point a very young man comes to the house to collect money for newspapers. He’s 16 or 17. Blanche is home alone and comes on to the boy and kisses him. It’s the point where we realise why she was sacked from her job. It was one of the uncomfortable scenes I have ever seen in the theatre. It was so creepy. A few of the audience laughed. I wonder would they have done so if the roles had been reversed with an older man coming onto a teenaged girl? I suspect not.

There was an unusual piece of casting. The actor playing Stella DuBois, Blanche’s sister was black while Maxine Peake is white. Their acting was superb, bringing out the difficulties in the relationship between the two sisters. But, set in the southern states of America in the 1940s, wouldn’t someone had said something about a family containing black and white siblings? Especially one of the grand, plantation families even if it had fallen on hard times? Nothing was said so I just moved in and enjoyed the acting and the play. Maybe the Royal Exchange being PC with their casting?

I’m about to go into my really busy time of year work wise. I have to keep normal work going, take on a job that will fill a lot of my spare time and leaving me on call seven days a week from early morning until late in the evening and try to keep normal life going as much as possible. The upside will be a big boost to my bank account in August but it will mean a lot of hard work in June and July. I’ve spent part of the day downloading stuff onto my laptop for it. That went surprisingly well. I didn’t spend any time on the mobile to the tech/nerd guys back in the office. They must be disappointed as they look forward to my stupid questions.


I do get to work at home which can be good but I do have to be strict with myself, set daily targets and achieve them before I do anything else. It poses problems for this blog as I’m restricted in my wanderings between the house and the local store. It’s a strain to take pictures of any interest.


I noticed a lot of roses seem to be coming into bloom all over the city at the moment. Here’s some yellow ones in our garden. And the extra one is a pink one that has also come out. Both are at that just opened perfect stage. Enjoy.



Most people around the world will know of the BBC. Many will have watched programmes made by it. It’s one of our great national treasures. It produces some terrific TV; but also some excellent radio with several national stations and with most big cities and large towns having their own dedicated radio station. The jewel in the crown of the radio output is probably Radio 4, the national talk station. It provides us with a rich mixture of news, comment, comedy, stories, plays, intellectual games shows. And the cherry on the top of this output has to be The Archers. A national treasure imbedded in a national treasure.


For those abroad who don’t know it, it is the world’s oldest running soap opera. It began 65 years ago as a drama that got across government information to farmers about farming in those years after WWII when we were trying to get back on our feet. It concerns the doings of a fictional farming family, the eponymous Archers, and their friends and neighbours. It is set in the fictional village in of Ambridge in the fictional county of Borcestshire. It’s somewhere is the rolling green countryside between Birnmingham and Cheltenham close to the beautiful Cotswolds Hill. Actors who join the cast find themselves in it for the long haul, often dying in the part. When they do we mourn the actor and the fictional person.

It plays for 15 minutes every evening at 7pm and gets repeated the following day at 2pm. On Sunday at 10am there is the omnibus edition. It’s a comfortable, well off soap opera set among well appointed farmhouses and picture perfect cottages. The action take place in expensive kitchens with Aga stoves in abundance. It has a loyal and fanatic fan base. I’m one of them having been introduced to it by older members of the family. We follow the stories and, of late, TWITTER, has allowed us to interact with the programme and other fans. Usually it’s a gentle poking of fun at some aspect of its cosy middle classness.


But it’s taken a decidedly dark turn of late. About two years ago a new character arrived, Rob Titchener. He’d been brought in from Canada to run a big, new, industrial farm that had been set up on the edge of the village. He was married but we learned that the marriage was on the rocks. His eyes fell on Helen Archer. She has never been one of my favourite characters. She is her very own Greek Tragedy. Nowhere more so than in her relationships with men. Boyfriends came but mostly went. She did have a long term relationship with the local gamekeeper, an older guy, previously married, called Greg. That seemed to be going well and then he decided to commit suicide. Helen grieved but got back into the dating pool. She was having a bit of a thing with a hot, Australian barman but that came to a crashing end when she discovered Greg’s daughter, who she had given shelter to after she left her mother in France, in bed with her boy friend. Helen decided to give up on men but wanted a child so she went for the turkey baster option and Henry was born.


It all seemed to be going well in Helen world and then Rob appeared and swept her off her feet. It then turned out that Rob’s wife, Jess, didn’t know that the marriage was over and turned up in Ambridge to play happy families. So Rob was living with Jess at the same time as having a torrid affair with Helen. Alarm bells were ringing in middle class sittings rooms across the UK but not, it seems, in Ambridge who thought that Rob was a throughly nice guy and were relieved that he managed to get rid of his unstable wife, Jess. We knew otherwise of course.

With Jess off the scene, Rob was able to pursue and woo Helen openly. Ambridge was uncertain at first but, eventually even her ‘on the button’ mother, Pat, was won over, delighted that Helen had at last found such a caring and attentive husband. But we knew different. The abuse began. In public he was kind and attentive, in private he was controlling and manipulative. I haven’t the time and the space to record all of the things he has done to Helen. He’s gradually separated her from her friends and family. He’s taken her car keys and controls he phone. She can’t go anywhere without his permission. All these things he’s done because he’s persuaded her she is mentally ill. He’s found things about her past and the people who used to support her and used them to isolate her. Her gay cousin’s, Adam, fling with a Polish strawberry picker, behind the back of his husband Ian, has been used to split her from Ian. He loathes her best friend, Kirsty, because she’s the only one who sees him for what he is. He is a Jekyll and Hyde creature, his moods swinging from attentive to abusive in seconds. She doesn’t know where she is and is doubting herself all the time. She thinks it’s her problems that are causing him to act so. We have now had physical violence and marital rape, one of which has caused her to fall pregnant. When we thought things couldn’t get worse, his mother came to visit. What a bitch!

Last night it reached a crescendo. Last week’s the scales were falling from Helen’s eyes. Kirsty got her to talk to a helpline and got her a secret phone. And Helen got Jess’s number and met up with her and Jess told her about her experiences. Helen decided to leave Rob but, instead of just grabbing Henry and running to the family home, she decided to cook dinner and tell him over that. It was never going to end well. And when Rob got nasty with Henry, Helen was pushed over the edge and, at the end of the programme, Rob was on the kitchen floor with a knife in his back.


We listened shouting at the radio. By the end I was hugging a cushion and shaking. It was one of the most harrowing pieces of radio drama ever. TWITTER lit up as people rushed to share thoughts and fears. It was still going this morning when I looked on as people caught up with it. It’s been in all the papers this morning and the TV stations are following up on it as well as if it’s real news.

It has brought into the national consciousness this kind of abuse and has done good work to encourage people in this situation to come forward. To late for a local man here though who was in the same situation with an abusive wife. She has just been jailed because her husband ran onto a kitchen knife, several times. One TWITTER user has set up a giving page in Helen’s name with the money going to a charity that deals with abuse. As I post it has reached £90,000.