Review: Jinny, Derby Theatre

“Nothing ever comes that easy”

As if proof were needed about how much interesting work is being generated outside of London, Derby Theatre’s RETOLD series continues in full force, offering immediate responses to the classic plays in the main programme. So accompanying The Odyssey in 2014 was Caroline Horton’s modern-day Penelope RETOLD, putting Odysseus’ wife at the heart of the action, and partnering their newest production Look Back in Anger is Jane Wainwright’s Jinny, similarly relocated to a contemporary setting and giving us a gender-swapped Jimmy Porter.

Jinny is a 25 year old aspiring singer-songwriter, who has been aspiring for over a decade now. After graduating from university, she returned to Derby but her friends who remained have moved on with their lives and finding opportunities few and far between, she’s trapped in a dead-end retail job and sharing a poky flat with a pregnant pal. And over the course of just under an hour, we hear all about it, all the minutiae of a hard-working working-class life and the realisation that this might indeed be it. With songs on the guitar added. Continue reading “Review: Jinny, Derby Theatre”

Review: Barrow Hill, Finborough

“Maybe I’m meant t’stay ‘ere. Maybe…”

Barrow Hill is Jane Wainwright’s debut play, set in her native Derbyshire. 86 year old Kath Bilby is determined to save her local Methodist Chapel from being converted into flats as her family ties to the place are numerous and considerable. But when she finds it is her own son Graham, seeing an opportunity to address financial difficulties, who has won the building contract, both mother and son are forced to deal with their divided allegiances in this delicately moving tale at the Finborough.

Wainwright presents the idea of family loyalty and community as a double-edged sword. The succour that Kath finds from the wealth of family history and intimate familiarity around her is contrasted with the stifled ambition of grand-daughter Alison, itching to explore life beyond Derbyshire though keenly aware of how tightly the family bonds are felt. There’s a subtle grace to much of the writing here, Janet Henfrey’s determined feistiness convinced of her path of action and filling the void in a life where so many of her friends have died, and Cath Whitefield’s brusque wit just about hiding the more sensitive soul longing to come out. Continue reading “Review: Barrow Hill, Finborough”