'Groping for Words' review

Published on Thursday 4 September 2008. Halifax Courier
Hebden Bridge Little Theatre (reviewed) & tour. Sept 2008

BEST-SELLING author Sue Townsend's Groping for Words is a heart-warming comedy, full of charm and well-observed characterisation.
Set in an adult literacy class where students are faced with the frustration and embarrassment of learning to read and write, it reflects social issues that strike at the heart of life's obstacles.
Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 writer Townsend's sympathetic style lends app-eal to the clever plot with its seemingly predictable happy ending.
Inappropriate nursery classroom furniture and a bright plastic Wendy house serve to emphasise the difficulties the four misfits, who are thrown together, face, but offers Alice in Wonderland comic mo-ments.
Bretton Hall trained Chris Leach plays Kevin as a suitably aggressive tattooed punk, while Laura Spratt's Lycra-wearing Thelma Chur-chill – "no relation" – is full of throwaway, casual teenage angst.
Michael Wardle as the un-employed, deserted George is gentle, and lovable with a feisty edge and Gayle Dennis as Joyce, the newly-qualified trusting, optimistic, accident-prone literacy crusader, holds the story together.
With inventive lighting plots and an 80s soundtrack, it could benefit from some tightening up of pace at this early stage in its run.
Directed by Peter Martin, best known as Len Reynolds in TV's Emmerdale and as Joe Carroll in The Royle Family, Groping for Words is touring Yorkshire, Lancashire and Derbyshire over the next three weeks.
It will play Calderdale again at Halifax Playhouse on Wednesday.