Heartwarming comedy left me on top of the world

The cast of Silver Lining
The cast of Silver Lining

Harrogate Dramatic Society brought the drama and emotion of Silver Retirement Home to life in Sandy Toksvig’s play Silver Lining.

A heart-string pulling, laugh out loud comedy set in Gravesend. The setting was created seamlessly and instantly by John Branton and Malcolm Wright’s scenery alongside the rainy soundscape created by Richard Naylor.

Instantly I was transported into the retirement home and within the intimate setting of the Harrogate Theatre Studio I felt a part of the action.

Under the artistic vision and direction of Gill McVey, the actors eeked out every ounce of comedy whilst also creating poignant moments that really made you think.

Each character on stage was individual and distinctive and the actors had obviously worked hard on this during their rehearsals.

Jenny Humphreys’ portrayal of the lovable Maureen made me think of my own Grandmother. She had great comic timing and really managed to capture the audience’s attention during Maureen’s more serious moments.

Silver Lining brings together the generations in a touching yet comic way. This was shown beautifully by the relationship between Christine Smith’s confident yet troubled Gloria and Amelia Braithwaite’s energetic Hope.

Smith portrayed the constant struggle of her character very believably and engaged the audience with tales of her youth. Braithwaite held her own among the more regular seasoned performers and she is a brilliant addition to the drama society.

Within the play we see how people have their own struggles and problems, which often aren’t seen by the outside world. A brilliant example of this was the journey of the sisters May and June played by Sue Rawson and Lesley Wheal respectively.

Throughout the play we see their relationship change and navigate extremely emotional subject matter. I’m sure most audience members can relate to a complicated sibling relationship.

Rawson had the audience erupting with laughter because of her great comic timing and witty delivery. Wheal created, potentially, my favourite character of the piece: the

uptight, racist, highly religious relative we’re all slightly embarrassed of.

Her character was exaggerated in all the right places for comedy yet still was capable of creating engaging vulnerable moments that pulled at your heart strings.

The whole cast showcased their versatility and skill as they flipped between comic timing and emotional vulnerable moments, keeping the audience on their toes. Janet Wilson was testament to this as St Michael.

She came out with witty one liners alongside a very touching monologue that held the complete and full attention of the audience. Chris Rawson brought an injection of dramatic tension to the piece as he changed the pace of the proceedings.

After the interval the action really picked up and the experience of McVey in directing and theatre making became apparent. I don’t want to give too much away but thank goodness the cast were shouting by the end of the play or they wouldn’t have been heard over the laughter of the audience.

Cynthia Jones - prop-master came into her element in the second half. The props were used to helped to create exciting and dramatic scenes. These showed off the cast’s skill in maintaining their emotional commitment while technically working the stage. Well done ladies.

Silver Lining is a heart-warming comedy interspersed with heartfelt moments that catch you by surprise. It will leave you feeling empowered and ready to take on the world.

Silver Lining runs Harrogate Studio Theatre fron now until Saturday March 2, daily at 7:45pm witha Saturday matinee at 2pm.