LipService Theatre take Bronte literary spoof Withering Looks onto Zoom for Pocklington Arts Centre virtual show

Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding in LipService Theatre’s literary spoof of the writerly Bronte sisters, Withering Looks

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre favourites LipService Theatre will present a special live stream of their savvy yet delightfully silly Bronte sisters spoof Withering Looks on April 22.

Forming part of the still-closed East Yorkshire venue’s ongoing series of online events during the pandemic lockdowns, the 7.30pm streaming will be introduced on Zoom by LipService duo Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding, who will conduct a live question-and-answer session too at the finale.

Tickets are selling fast with customers form far and wide – including Belgium – snapping them up.

Commissioned by the Bronte Parsonage Museum, the filmed performance by “Britain’s favourite literary lunatics” was recorded by Maggie and Sue at the Bronte family’s home at Haworth, West Yorkshire.

Scenes from Withering Looks filmed “in the actual parsonage where the Bronte sisters wrote their actual books actually” will be complemented by additional material recorded in and around Haworth village and on the wild and windswept moors in sub-zero temperatures. 

“Withering Looks explores a day in the life of the Bronte sisters (well two of them, Anne’s just popped out for a cup of sugar) and in true David Attenborough style there will be additional footage going behind the scenes of the making of the show,” promise the duo.

Maggie, from York, and Sue, from t’other side of the Pennines, first met as drama students at Bristol University in a “very serious Henrik Ibsen production that had the audience on the floor laughing”.

A tragedy for Ibsen nevertheless turned out to be the launching pad to a very long partnership in satirical comedy, as the duo recall. Forming LipService in Manchester in 1985, Maggie and Sue have chalked up 22 original comedies from a distinctly female perspective, as well as series for BBC Radio and tours of Germany, Eastern Europe, the United States and Pakistan, over the past 35 years.

Dubbed “the Laurel and Hardy of literary deconstruction” by the Guardian, LipService have visited Pocklington Arts Centre regularly. PAC director Janet Farmer says: “I’m absolutely delighted to have LipService returning to our live events programme, albeit this time virtually. 

“PAC has a longstanding relationship with the company, with Maggie and Sue selling out numerous performances in recent years with their unique theatrical style and infectious enthusiasm.

“I, along with fellow PAC staff members, will be attending the performance and this will be the first time the venue has had direct interaction with its audience members, at an event, in over a year.”

Meanwhile, what about those ticket holders from Belgium, Luc and Hilde Verstraeten-Mariën, who will Zoom into the PAC show after their plans to catch LipService live were thwarted by the pandemic?

“We were excited to hear that Lip Service had created Zoom performances,” say Luc and Hilde. “We’ve just watched Château Ghoul and it made our day! We really enjoyed the show: it was funny, cheeky, and mad. We enjoyed the interactive part of it and we thought they made clever and creative use of Zoom. We kept giggling for the rest of the evening!

“We are looking forward to more of the same: refreshingly funny, intelligently witty and slightly mad at the same time, highly creative, high-standard comedy with a twist by two fabulous women.”

Tickets for Withering Looks cost £15 at