Theatre review: Gladys and Daphne, Lyttleton Arts Factory (Christchurch)

Running from 28 April to 16 May 2021

When I asked Betty, my 90-year-old mother-in-law if she’d like to go to the theatre for Mother’s Day she responded with a resounding NO.  

“Wow, that was a clear no, why?”

“I don’t want to be sitting in the dark on hard seats for hours on end, so thank you but no.”

I’d already bought the tickets so I took her 58-year-old son instead, unsure a play about an unlikely friendship between two very different women would float his boat.

I watched the play, as I do with most media, with an eye open for any sort of ageism while also wondering if the venue and story would give me ammunition to say to Betty that she could have come out with me, and that she would have enjoyed herself.

The performance only lasts one hour so no sitting in the dark for hours: box ticked. The venue, the Lyttleton Arts Factory is actually Lyttleton Primary School’s hall, rebuilt following the Canterbury Earthquakes. It’s a very nice little venue with relatively comfortable (if tightly packed) seats but with easy disability access; the whole front row would be easy for someone using a walker.

The venue lent itself well to the story of Gladys and Daphne, two women who meet on a bench and develop a friendship, especially as there are only two cast members: Lynda Milligan as Gladys and Julie Edwards as Daphne. The acting was excellent with the characters coming alive so much so that I actually felt I knew Daphne and had met her before!  There was maybe one too many menopause jokes, but the dialogue was believable and the moments of poignancy well measured.  Between scenes there was some great music (we don’t hear enough Patsy Cline in my opinion!) and some great images of Invercargill from the past.

All in all, it is a lovely, light-hearted play, very suitable for someone who doesn’t want to sit in the theatre for hours. I’d recommend it if you want to take your mum or dad out – but be quick – this week is the final week.

You can buy tickets via the Lyttleton Arts Factory website – tickets start from $27.

About Linda Nicolson

Linda Nicolson
Linda is the General Manager of Eldernet and Care Publications.

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