MALORY TOWERS

Home, Manchester

Until Saturday

IT’S been a long time since Darrell, Gwendoline and co have been in my life.

A quick calculation tells me almost 30 years (frightening!) so I was delighted to see a stage version of one of my favourite childhood books was coming to Home in Manchester.

Intrigued and eager to be reacquainted, the magic began when I was handed my programme which looked just like a school exercise book – nostalgia overload.

This Is Lancashire:

The play starts in the present day to the throngs of Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy – I wonder what author Enid Blyton would make of that?

Attention immediately grabbed; we are soon transported to the majestic Malory Towers - an image of turrets overlooking the sea just as I remember them.

This Is Lancashire:

A dazzlingly talented cast brings each of the characters to life, with several standout performances. Rebecca Collingwood’s portrayal of seemingly spoilt bully Gwendoline Lacey is perfectly mean and whiny (pictured below).

This Is Lancashire:

The musical score is a delight, particularly Gospel Train, in which Renee Lamb shines as Alicia.

Mirabelle Gremaund, as Irene Dupont, displays her considerable musical talents and Francesca Mills brings energy to the role of sensible Sally Hope.

Izuka Hoyle puts in a strong turn as heroine Darrell Rivers while Rose Shalloo is a perfectly meek Mary-Lou and Vinnie Heaven puts in an enjoyable performance as tomboy Bill Robinson.

This Is Lancashire:

Francesca Mills as Sally Hope, Renee Lamb as Alicia, Vinnie Heaven as Bill Robinson and Izuka Hoyle as Darrell Rivers

The play has been adapted and directed by Emma Rice, from theatre company Wise Children Presents, and is dedicated to the women who helped shape the minds and lives of young girls in schools after the horrors of two world wars.

The play combines storylines from the six books, which were written between 1946 and 1951, packed with high jinks, drama, laughs and heartfelt moments.

This Is Lancashire:

Faithful to the original story but without being dated, the much-loved story of Malory Towers is brought to glorious life with this fantastic and diverse cast.