YORK actress Victoria Delaney will be appearing in two plays in quick succession, all on top of her daytime job and being a mum.
From tonight until Saturday, she plays Kath in York Actors Collective’s debut production of Joe Orton’s savage 1964 farce Entertaining Mr Sloane at Theatre@41, Monkgate.
From April 5 to 15, this will be followed by her turn as in York Settlement Community Players’ staging of Tom Stoppard’s 1982 exploration of love and infidelity, The Real Thing, at York Theatre Royal Studio.
Entertaining Mr Sloane launches director and tutor Angie Millard’s new company. “After Angie directed Alan Ayckbourn’s Woman In Mind for Settlement Players last February, we were mulling over a few ideas about starting up a company, and what to do, and we settled on Entertaining Mr Sloane,” says Victoria, who had played the lead, housewife Susan, in Ayckbourn’s dark comedy.
“It’s a highly pressurised play for the cast, especially for the young actor playing Sloane. Angie has chosen Ben Weir, from York St John University, who appeared in Pick Me Up Theatre’s Shakespeare In Love last April.”
In Orton’s fractious farce, Delaney’s Kath, who lives with her father Dada Kemp, brings home a lodger, the amoral and psychopathic Mr Sloane, a face familiar to the father from his past.
When her brother Ed arrives, complications crank up when the siblings become embroiled in a tense sexual struggle for Sloane as he plays one off against the other while Dada Kemp is caught in the crossfire.
“I think it’s still a radical play as it’s such a dark comedy, but people need to remember that they’re permitted to laugh because it is really funny. People are drawn to looking at the scene of a car crash and that’s a bit like what watching really dark comedy is like,” says Victoria.
She is delighted to be appearing in a cast featuring Chris Pomfrett as Ed and Mick Liversidge as Dada Kemp alongside Weir’s Sloane. “I’m really lucky to be working with Chris, who played the doctor in Woman In Mind, and Mick, who was Vanya in Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike, the last play Settlement did last year. It’s great to be back with them as there’s a lot of trust there.”
That trust is essential when performing a play of extreme behaviour. “It’s misogynistic, there are racist comments in there, and Kath’s character is vulnerable and highly sexualised. Feminists will be up in arms,” says Victoria.
“But isn’t theatre supposed to be thought-provoking and aren’t we supposed to learn from the mistakes of the past, like how we now look at Dada Kemp’s racist comments?
“Also, some of the terminology shows how different society was at that time, like Kath’s illegitimate baby, when she was young, was ‘born on the wrong side of the blanket’. It’s good to dip your toe into different times to show how it was.”
Victoria has a preference for Entertaining Mr Sloane over Orton’s most performed work, What The Butler Saw. “Maybe it’s more gritty, and I like that,” she says. “If I had to choose a modern-day drama to perform, I would pick something gritty and British that has wit as well, and Entertaining Mr Sloane does.
“If you have a powerful plot, then you really have the chance to up your acting game and show your skills. At times, it’s also important to remember it’s a comedy, but there are some scenes that however you approach them, they’re not going to be funny, but what you do next has to be funny to lift the mood.”
Coming next will be her first experience of performing a play by Pocklington School alumnus Tom Stoppard, The Real Thing. “It’s my first Stoppard and my first time of working with director Jacob ward, who I met when we did The Coppergate Woman last year at York Theatre Royal, where he played one of the gods,” says Victoria. “He came to see me in Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike, liked what I did, and that helped with the audition.”
In Stoppard’s typically witty and adroit play within a play, Henry is married to Charlotte, Victoria’s character. Max is married to Annie. Henry – possibly the sharpest playwright of his generation – has written a play about a couple whose marriage is on the brink of collapse. Charlotte and Max, his leading couple, are soon to find out that sometimes life imitates art, as Stoppard has everyone questioning, “What is the real thing?”
“Charlotte’s husband has written a play for her to star in, but she hates him and the play as he’s written a really weak woman character, which is something that Stoppard was accused of doing in the past. So this is Stoppard taking the mick out of himself,” says Victoria.
York Actors Collective in Entertaining Mr Sloane, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, tonight (15/3/2023) to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
York Settlement Community Players in The Real Thing, York Theatre Royal Studio, April 5 and 6, 7.30pm; April 11 to 15, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee. No performances from April 7 to 10. Question-and-answer session after the April 12 peformance. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Jacob Ward to direct York Settlement Community Players in Tom Stoppard’s deceptive comedy The Real Thing
YORK thespian Jacob Ward is directing York Settlement Community Players for the first time in Tom Stoppard’s play within a play, The Real Thing, at York Theatre Royal Studio from April 5 to 15.
First performed in 1982, this award-winning beguiling play of surprise and wit follows Henry, possibly the sharpest playwright of his generation, who is married to Charlotte, an actress. Max is married to Annie.
Henry has written a play about a couple whose marriage is on the brink of collapse. Charlotte and Max, his leading couple, are soon to learn that sometimes life imitates art in Stoppard’s study of love and infidelity that ponders: “What is the real thing…?”
Settlement Players’ last production was New Jersey playwright Christopher Durang’s relationship comedy Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike at Theatre@41 in November 2022.
The Real Thing marks their return to the Theatre Royal Studio after presenting Alan Ayckbourn’s Woman In Mind last February.
Director Jacob Ward says: “I’m very excited for an audience to interact with our modern-day version of Stoppard’s play. Its subject seems simple but, as we see through the eyes of various characters, we realise its complexity, and enjoy having our views on love and relationships broadened.
“The writing is nothing short of genius – it really is. Even after 20-plus times of reading, I’m still finding impossible connections and meaning. It’s a joy to direct and will be a thrill to watch: hilarious, heart-warming and thought-provoking all in one.
“We have a brilliant cast to take you on the journey and a truly dedicated production team to bring the play to life. I can’t wait to add the audience.”
Alan Park, chair of Theatre@41, takes on the role of Henry. Alice Melton, last seen in York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust’s 2022 production of A Nativity Of York last December, plays Annie. They are joined by Settlement regulars and newcomers: Victoria Delaney as Charlotte; Mike Hickman as Max; Rebecca Harrison as Billy; Hannah Waring as Debbie and Alexandra Logan as Brodie.