Ladies Down Under

Written by Amanda Whittington

Thursday 16th July to Saturday 18th July 7:30p.m and Wednesday 22nd July to Saturday 26th July 2015

Directed by Mark Wakeman

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 Down Under

Grab your passports because Bench Theatre are taking you on an exciting trip down under. Pearl, Jan, Shelley and Linda, the four fish packers from 'Ladies Day' have decided to use the money they won at the races to treat themselves to a luxury holiday in Australia!

However, just like on their trip to Royal Ascot, things don't go quite to plan.

Join us as the original cast returns for the hilarious sequel. A comedy of four friends against the world on the opposite side of the planet! From the team that brought you 'Ladies Day' and 'Daisy pulls it off'.

The Bench Production

Ladies Down Under poster image

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
TomChris Vanstone
JoePaul Millington
BillChris Vanstone
BenZack Cuthbertson
ShaneChris Vanstone
CharliePete Woodward
DannyCallum West
Koala BareZack Cuthbertson
Bondi BitchCallum West


Director Mark Wakeman
Producer Jaspar Utley
Stage Manager Claire Lyne
Assistant Producer Verity Butler
Lighting Design Thomas Hall
Lighting Operation Sue Dawes
Sound Design Jacquie Penrose
Sound Operation Sally Hartley
Set Design Dan Finch
Set Construction Julie Wood, Thomas Hall
Poster Image Dan Finch
Programme Editor Derek Callam
Photography Jayne Wilson
Front of House Manager Sharman Callam

Director's Notes

Welcome to 'Ladies Down Under' the sequel to our 2013 production 'Ladies Day'. So why have we decided to do a sequel? For a number of reasons.

1 It's very rare to have a sequel to a stage play so it's a new theatrical experience to revisit characters and see if you can make it work again.

2 'Ladies Day' was extremely well received by you the audience and so we thought you might like to see the next stage of the story.

3 Because we all wanted to work together again. 'Ladies Day' was such a joyous production to be part of we all wanted the chance to come together again.

We'd all known that a sequel existed but we didn't read it until the show was over and once we'd read it we were all determined to come back. It's taken a while to manoeuvre everyone's diaries to make all the original cast free to do the sequel (Why do a sequel if you don't have the original cast?) but we managed it and here it is.

It's been a strange production to work on because all the work you do at the start of a show on character building was largely absent because the cast all remembered the work we'd done on the original and they just slotted back into character with ease. But this play offers a whole different set of different challenges, namely the fact it's set over the course of a month where the previous show was a mere day. Also presenting the whole of Australia within the confines of our tiny stage was an obvious problem so we decided to go simple and let your imaginations do the rest. So watch and enjoy. Thank you for coming to support local theatre, without you we wouldn't be able to carry on doing what we do.

Mark Wakeman


Remote GoatJill Lawrie

"Amusing tale of enduring friendships"

Having performed 'Ladies Day' in 2013, where Amanda Whittington's comedy centred on the friendship of four female fish packers from Hull, Bench Theatre now present the sequel 'Ladies Down Under'.

The same group of characters who scooped half a million on an accumulator bet at Ascot are now heading down under to spend their spoils on a luxury holiday. This hilarious sequel brings a whole new set of situations from the outback to Sydney's colourful Mardi Gras festival alongside a selection of Aussie archetypes.

Reprising their roles as the soul searching ladies are Sarah Parnell (Pearl), Robin Hall (Jan), Beth Evans (Linda) and Jessi Wilson (Shelley) along with loyal and dedicated Director Mark Wakeman. Although an obvious challenge for the set designer it was disappointing that this was dispensed with more or less altogether, though the airport props were immensely impressive.There were some very fine performances from the male members of the cast, Chris Vanstone firstly made an entertaining member of the cabin crew followed up as a surf dude with strong Aussie twang. Callum West too impressed as both the spiritual bushman Danny and then a complete contrast playing Bondi Bitch at the gay and lesbian carnival! Initially a camp flight attendant but nearing the climax of the show Zack Cuthbertson wowed the audience as the glamorous 'Kylie' look-alike drag queen Koala Bare. Feather boa, thigh-high scarlet boots and a mimed rendition of the classic 'I am What I Am' from 'La Cage Aux Folles' ~ he was sensational!

Skilful and accomplished performances from all four of the female leads ensured their underlying comradeship and humanity shone through with another outstanding interpretation of the tarty, larger than life Shelley from Jessi Wilson. A sell out performance for this highly entertaining tragi-comedy from the multi talented Bench Theatre.

Jill Lawrie, Remote Goat, July 2015


The NewsJames George

Ladies Down Under, Bench Theatre

Amanda Whittington's play, performed by The Bench at The Spring, is cliched but nevertheless a funny, uplifting piece.

Director Mark Wakeman has chosen to stage this child of Shirley Valentine by Priscilla, Queen of the Desert with virtually no set, and when taking a chance like that, you'd better hope your actors are up to the mark.

And Mr Wakeman need have no fear on that score. This is one of the all-round strongest amateur casts I've seen in a long, long time. To describe it as Chekhovian may seem inappropriate, but the story really is secondary to the characterisation here. Sarah Parnell, Robin Hall, Beth Evans and Jessi Wilson as the protagonists are both convincing and truthful. More than able support comes from Callum West (particularly as Danny). There's also a nice comic double-act from Chris Vanstone and Zack Cuthbertson as trolley-dollies.

If there's one quibble, the drag-queen lip-syncing sequence to the anthemic I Am What I Am that comes as the climax to the show needs supercharging with voltage and pizzazz. But the quibble is small and the evening is excellent. Until tomorrow.

James George, The News, July 2015

Production Photographs