Attic reveals ghosts and memories

Liza Goddard who stars in A Passionate Woman, Lyceum Sheffield, Feb 28 to March 4 2017
Liza Goddard who stars in A Passionate Woman, Lyceum Sheffield, Feb 28 to March 4 2017

Bergerac star Liza Goddard takes on the role of A Passionate Woman in Kay Mellor’s wistful comedy about love, memory, passion and regret.

A Passionate Woman was inspired by the Leeds-born writer’s own mother and a confession late in life about an extra-marital affair. It premiered at West Yorkshire Playhouse in 1992 and then Mellor returned to play the part herself in 2011.

Although not involved in this production, she did support it by turning up on opening night in Cheltenham last Friday.

“She was very generous with her presence and her praise,” reports Goddard. “Luckily no-one told me beforehand she was there or I would have been a bag of nerves.”

It’s all about Betty who on the morning of her son’s wedding retreats to her attic where she summons memories and ghosts from her past,

“The play gradually reveals secrets of her life as layers are peeled away and you see that things aren’t quite what they seemed at the beginning,” explains the actress.

There are aspects of Betty that resonate with Goddard. “I remember when my son left home to go to university. It was ghastly. But her son is 37 so it’s rather different.

“And she’s a Yorkshirewoman. The prospect of playing her in Yorkshire is scary but I have worked in Scarborough twice before and done the accent and got away with it.”

That was with Alan Ayckbourn at the Stephen Joseph Theatre and she calculates that she has been in eight of his plays. The most recent was Relatively Speaking which brought her to the Lyceum last year with Robert Powell and Antony Eden who now plays her son. We also see Russell Dixon as her husband and Hasan Dixon (no relation) as her old flame.

“It’s very cleverly staged with a wonderful set which revolves and things are revealed right up to the end,” explains Goddard.

A Passionate Woman is at the Lyceum Theatre from Tuesday to Saturday.