BEING in a theatre production is a little like being part of a big family. On-stage and back stage members join together, each doing their best to produce something they love.

Each play is a unique bonding process as the cast and crew come together and rely on each other; so much so that they often report feeling bereft after the show is over.

If the rehearsal photos, deftly taken by Sarah Ford, are anything to go by, then the ‘family’ behind Spring and Port Wine are having a marvellous time, and getting on rather better than their on-stage personas. It’s a connection that we’re sure will spill over into the on-stage chemistry, enhancing the credibility of the performances as we get to know the Cromptons, the family at the heart of Spring and Port Wine.

Relationships are strained in the Crompton household. Their lives, in the 1950s northern town, are shaped by work, church and the unbending morality of Rafe, the priggish head of the family. Resentment, always simmering under the surface, comes to a head when daughter Hilda refuses to eat a herring for tea. The offending fish is then served for every meal until she bows to Rafe’s decree. Rebellion and change are in the air – how do the family cope in the face of changing times, and can balance and harmony be restored?

The characters, the comedy and narrative arc are brilliantly written by Bill Naughton, the Anglo-Irish playwright best known as the author of the classic play Alfie, which was famously made into a film with Michael Caine. It’s both thoroughly of its time and simultaneously timeless.

After the drama, the music, as esteemed duo Simon Mayor & Hilary James visit on Sunday, March 10. Hilary James is best known for her singing, which crosses the great musical divides from big band jazz to traditional ballads, blues and Berlioz. Hilary’s partner Simon Mayor is one of the world’s foremost mandolinists, as well as a leading composer for the instrument. He’s also a witty and entertaining presenter, and has pulled off the remarkable feat of becoming highly regarded in classical and folk circles alike.

Finally, join us for some Chaos, our Greenroom National Theatre Connections production. Running from February 28th to March 2, there are just three chances to see an interesting and innovative piece of theatre by young writer Laura Lomas. Chaos comprises a series of dislocated but interconnected scenes about young people and their experience of the world. Please come along and support out young actors in a performance that includes dance routines, thought-provoking monologues, bouncing balls, flowers, trains, tornados and butterflies!

Tickets for all productions at Ilkley Playhouse and events can be bought online at or by calling 01943 609539 during opening hours.

Claire Emmott