Ladies' Day

Written by Amanda Whittington

Thursday 18th July to Saturday 20th July 7:30p.m, matinee on Saturday 20th July at 2:30p.m.& Tuesday 23rd July to Saturday 27th July 2013

Directed by Mark Wakeman

Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot! It conjures images the world over of glamour, culture and sporting excitement, but now four fish packers from Hull have decided they want in on the action. Unfortunately they haven't got any tickets, but they won't let a little thing like that stand in their way. Join Pearl, Jan, Linda and Shelley in this hilarious comedy from Amanda Whittington (Be My Baby) in their quest to find love, happiness and Tony Christie!

It's a safe bet Bench Theatre will give you a great night out with this heart-warming comedy from the team that brought you 'Daisy pulls it off!'

AuthorAmanda Whittington

Amanda Whittingham

Amanda Whittington was born in Nottingham in 1968. After leaving school, she worked as a freelance journalist for a variety of publications and was a columnist for the Nottingham Evening Post. In 2001, she won the Dennis Potter Screenwriting Award for Bollywood Jane, a work which she later adapted for stage.

She has also written three youth theatre plays and a stage adaptation of "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" (2006). As of 2013, she is chair of the Writers' Guild Theatre Committee.

In her own words, this is what she said about wanting to become a playwright

'It was just something I always wanted to do; I don't think there was a moment when I decided I want to be a playwright. Even before I had gone to the theatre I used to put plays on in my garage, I loved theatre and writing, I always wanted to write and I was just drawn to the theatre. I didn't train at all, I learned on the job. I had a place at university but didn't take it up, I took off with the intention of finding something to do and I started working as a freelance journalist because I thought that was how I could make some money from writing and I really learned just by doing everything. I was writing features about art, music, all sorts of things - anything and everything I could get.'

PlayLadies' Day

Taken from an interview recorded with Amanda Whittington

'What inspired you to write Ladies Day?'

'The Hull Truck wanted to commission me and I was having a conversation with Gareth about what we might do and he said "I remember being at York when it was ladies' day at the races and seeing them going in all dolled up and coming out blind drunk - I think there's a play in it", and so he inspired me really. I thought, "there's something in this gang of women going into ladies' day at the races", so I ran with it and expanded on the idea.'

'It is set at the races but it's really about a gang of workmates and their friendships and lives and bigger things than the races. I guess it was an opportunity to write about these sort of characters. I think what audiences will enjoy is the fact that it's about ordinary life and I mean that in the best sense of the word. Four ordinary women have an extraordinary experience and without wanting to give it all away they come very close to winning a huge amount of money and I think people enjoy seeing people's lives suddenly transformed in the space of a day. It is funny and poignant and the characters are very familiar.'

'I have been to the races a few times and I have spoken to other people who have, and who have been to ladies' day, because I wanted to draw on a variety of experiences. Although it is all made up, it is not verbatim. Verbatim drama is not something I've done but it's something I would consider doing, particularly with my background as a journalist, but it's all about finding the right subject matter and a story best told by truth rather than an imagined version of events.'

The Bench Production

This play was staged at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre (formerly Havant Arts Centre), East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.


PearlSarah Parnell
JanRobin Hall
LindaBeth Evans
ShelleyJessi Wilson
BarryPeter Woodward
JoePaul Millington
PatrickChris Vanstone
JimTim Taylor
Fred/KevinThomas Hall


Director Mark Wakeman
Producer Jaspar Utley
Stage Manager Thomas Hall
Assistant Stage Manager
Lighting Design Thomas Hall
Lighting Operation Sue Dawes
Sound Design Sarah Parnell
Sound Operation Sally Hartley
Set Design Pete Woodward
Set Construction
Poster Image Dan Finch
Programme Editor Derek Callam
Photography Julie Wood
Front of House Manager David Penrose

Director's Notes

The play you are about to watch isn't about racing.

Well bits of it are.

But most of all it's about friendship. How the friendship between four fish packers enables them to face all the things that life throws at them, both funny and sad.

The idea of friendship became ever more important to me this year with the sad passing of my father. It was a deeply traumatic time for me and my friends rallied round me in a way that I could not have previously imagined.

So this play is a salute and exploration of friendship. The idea of which has added significance to me now.

I would like to dedicate this show to my beloved Mother and Father who would have enjoyed it all enormously. I would also like to dedicate it to my friends. Without whom I doubt I would be here to have directed it in the first place.

As always, I hope that you, the audience, enjoy it. If so, please tell your friends. Without your generous support and appreciation we would not be able to continue. So thank you for supporting local theatre and long may you do so.


Remote GoatJill Lawrie

This is a highly entertaining play penned by Amanda Whittington, Chair of the Writers' Guild Theatre Committee, whose plays include "Be My Baby" and more recently "The Thrill of Love".

A comedy centred on the friendship of four female fish packers, who take advantage of the fact that in 2005 the Royal Ascot meeting relocated to York, while undergoing a multi million pound redevelopment. Pearl is on the brink of semi retirement and makes a spur of the moment decision which sees the foursome, dressed to impress, head to the races for Ladies Day. As they embark on their champagne fuelled day secrets and revelations are exposed giving way to moments of hidden heartache, vulnerability, thwarted ambitions and all midst genuine humour. Against the odds the quartet not only gain admission to the enclosure but almost complete the Tote jackpot!

The leading contenders are Robin Hall taking on the role of the naive clingy single Mum Jan, galloping towards inebriation before passing out! Next up is Beth Evans, thoroughly convincing as the simple Linda with her obsessive passion for Tony Christie. The role of the easy going retiree Pearl is played by Sarah Parnell and is an impressive runner up. However the clear winner has to be larger than life tarty Shelley superbly portrayed by Jessi Wilson. Outrageously dressed in mini animal print, she steals the show. Good support from the minor roles that included a sleazy racing pundit and an energetic lonely Irish jockey keenly observed by Chris Vanstone.

Stalwart and committed Bench member Mark Wakeman (Director) has backed a winner with this extremely entertaining tragi-comedy. Despite their fractured lives it is their enduring friendship that stays the course and leads from start to finish.

Jill Lawrie, Remote Goat, July 2013


The NewsJennie Rawling

Ladies' Day, Bench Theatre

Bench Theatre brings the brilliantly funny Ladies' Day to Havant with a quality cast this week.

A fitting soundtrack aids the smooth scene transitions and the set is kept effectively simple.

The play focuses on four fish-packers from Hull let loose at Royal Ascot on the famous Ladies' Day. The northern accents are entirely convincing to this reviewer, a Yorkshire lass herself.

Robin Hall as Jan and Beth Evans as Linda give heartwarming performances, drawing the audience into the characters' lives. Jessi Wilson is magnificent as outspoken Shelley, strutting across the stage like she owns it with hilarious facial expressions. Sarah Parnell is perfect as Pearl, the fish-packer destined for early retirement. There is an honesty and natural flow to her performance.

Tight performances all round make this a polished piece of theatre. It will make you giggle, laugh and clap your hands heartily.

Jennie Rawling, The News, July 2013

Production Photographs