It was already pretty exciting for writer Lita Doolan that her play The Wyre Lady Of Fleetwood was having its world premiere at this year’s Brighton Fringe, but now she has even more to celebrate with the announcement that the popular digital show has been extended until 11 July 2021.
This production of the critically-acclaimed, award-winning play about the gentrification of Fleetwood fishing lofts uses a mix of audio, film and video and is performed by Julie Broadbent, Ian McShee, Bhasker Patel, Jo Phillips-Lane and Mabel Pritchard.
Lita Doolan explains how “going digital” with the project has had its advantages and she hopes to take the staging to another, similar festival later on this year: “We could bring together a cast that would not normally be able to work together due to living in different parts of the country, so creatively this opportunity has been a great success.”
Doolan and the cast and creative team have also been overwhelmed by the positive response from critics, including My Theatre Mates’ Louise Penn who wrote:
“The cast are all convincing in their depiction of inhabitants of the land ruled by the sea. These are characters we can recognise easily, and they gain our interest and empathy.”
Mumble Theatre also added: “It was the most touching play of deep interactions and conversations about painful but loving memories.”
The ‘Wyre Lady’ of the show’s title is the name of a pleasure boat used to attract visitors to the area and the piece juxtaposes sea faring as a way to make a living with the benefits of tourism and ‘the lighter side of life’.
In the play a mother waits for her son Robbie to visit her from London, where he has enjoyed a successful career, appearing on magazine covers. She feels there is little that can attract him back to his Fleetwood home.
However, Robbie has seen his dad’s old fishing loft is on the market and considers heading back north ‘to seek redemption’, although he is not the only sibling to have his eyes on the prize.
The poignant story is told in the context of the Cod Wars and a decline in the fish processing industry which had a devastating affect on communities. Like many, Robbie’s mum is struggling to keep up with her rent payments and is in fear of losing her home.
As the uninhabited fisherman’s loft is left unused, will the vacant land be returned to the people? Meanwhile, the pleasure cruises on the Wyre Lady float on by.
Doolan explains how her play deals with the trauma of homelessness. After surviving defeat in the Cod Wars of the 1970s Fleetwood families continue to face hardship. In the face of the local fishing industry being bought up, one woman strives to improve her situation against the challenge of unsympathetic landlords and one man tries his hardest to keep things together for his family.
She points out that the issue of homelessness continues to devastate families, with charity Shelter recently stating that a million households in the UK fear losing their homes. Also topical in the context of the play is the plight of the UK fishing industry in the wake of Brexit.
This is the fourth year that Lita Doolan Productions has presented a show at the Brighton Fringe. A section of the Wyre Lady Of Fleetwood script has recently been curated and performed at Bedlam Theatre’s digital Monologue Showcase.
Previous productions have also been staged at a wide range of venues across the UK including Oxford Playhouse where Doolan won a playwriting award. Recent plays have also featured at the Brighton Digital Festival, Manchester Fringe, Dublin Pride and Melbourne Fringe, and have been produced by Selladoor and Green Curtain Theatre.
Tickets for the extended digital season of the free 30-minute show are available via the Brighton Fringe website until 11 July 2021. Don’t miss out!