Preview: Sweet Responsibility @ Salford Arts Theatre

  • The new comedy-drama by Charlotte Delaney about growing old and not having the perfect relationship opens this week at the Salford Arts Theatre

The debut of Charlotte Delaney’s new play, Sweet Responsibility, being at the Salford Arts Theatre seems entirely appropriate. Exploring how “the ugly underbelly of a rural idyll puts treasured friendship to the test”, Sweet Responsibility received a first public reading at Salford’s Working  Class Movement Library last November and opens this week as – in Charlotte Delaney’s words – “a fully functioning, all systems go, play” this week directed by Roni Ellis.

Jo Dakin plays Judy, a woman who had very clear plans for her life, none of which have come to fruition and is forced to return to her childhood home; “I think the play is about women over a certain age being no different to anybody younger really. I think a lot of people write people off after they reach certain age and I think this play shows that women in their seventies have got a political voice and can be just as ‘with it’ technology-wise as anybody else really”.

The play also has a streak of humour and Siobhan Edge, as Christine, has found her character in Sweet Responsibility enormous fun to play; “My character is the most unpleasant person I’ve ever come across, who thinks she controls everything that goes on in the village and she likes to have her finger in every pie. Christine hates youth, she keeps going on and on about them, so basically I’m just objectionable throughout the whole show. Which suits me fine!”  

I don’t think it’s wise to start a family with a bloke named Jeremy. It’s a name you’d grow to hate.

Playing Auntie Avis, Sheila Jones, sees a realistic voice as being one of the strengths of Charlotte Delaney’s writing; “You can have an incredibly clever writer but the dialogue seems unnatural. This actually feels like the way people talk”. This is seconded by Joseph Steyne as the ‘Impossibly Handsome Vicar’ who sees Delaney as a great social commentator; “I was just taken by her understanding of relationships. Her understanding of people. I like the cross-generational friendships that there are and I just think ultimately she understands that people can get on”.

The importance of opening new work in fringe venues like the Salford Arts Theatre is something that the cast is all in agreement with, as Jo remarks of the venue; “It’s in the Salford community. A community where a lot of people don’t actually go to the theatre and I think especially with it being Charlotte Delaney, Shelagh Delaney’s [writer of A Taste of Honey] daughter, there’s going to be a real pull. I think plays like this one are important as a way of getting people interested in coming to the theatre and hopefully seeing other stuff here”. Sweet Responsibility is at the Salford Arts Theatre 20-24 June.