The Darling Buds of May

by H.E. Bates

Directed by Martin Chadwick


Director's Notes

When I was invited to direct the last play of the season little did I realize it would be our last at The Mechanics, but I had decided I wanted a play with that 'feel good factor' and what better play than The Darling Buds of May
In 1956 H. E. Bates handed his son Richard the typescript of his latest short story and said it was something different, something funny.Those 6,000 words were later to become the first chapter of a novel entitled The Darling Buds of May - a novel that spawned four further novels featuring the indomitable Larkins,a feature film,a radio series,a hugely successful television series, and...a play.

What H.E. Bates created then has stood the test of appreciative viewers and readers all over the world.' hope our production will be just as warmly received and will give as much pleasure to old and new Larkin fans alike as it has given us to produce.

We all remember the performances of David Jason, Pam Ferris, and the new star of the future, Catherine Zeta Jones, in the TV series; but, for the record, the roles of Pop and Ma were created by Peter Jones and Elspeth March at the Saville Theatre, London, in 1959, and recreated by Christopher Timothy and Gemma Craven in 1995.

I would like to thank all my cast for the hard work they have put in: Nigel Catterall for putting up with my constant requests for carpentry work; to Noreen Lobo for her delicious scenic painting and to all the production staff and The Mechanics' technical staff for pulling together to bring to you this delightful play, a fitting end to our 24 years in this theatre. I also wish to extend a very special thank you to Marilyn Jones for unravelling the mysteries of Children in Performance.

Next season we start our life in a new home, the ACE Centre in Nelson. I hope you will join us there, continue to support us, and, more than anything, enjoy the plays we present for you. M.C.


'In this play, based on H E Bates' novel of the same name, the key characters are Sidney Charles "Pop" Larkin; his partner "Ma" Larkin; their eldest daughter Mariette; and tax-collector Cedric Charlton, who is re-christened "Charley" by the Larkins.

Charley arrives at the beginning of the play to get Pop Larkin to fill in his tax forms. He is distracted from this when he falls in love with Mariette Larkin at first sight, and the Larkins distract him even further by attempting to teach him to play crib, and getting him drunk...'

"The darling buds of May" is a quotation from Shakespeare's sonnet XVIII:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.


The action takes place in the Larkin household, set in luscious woodland countryside in southern England.

Act I

Act II


Production Team

Stage Manager - Andrew Husband
Production Assistant - Neil Tranmer
Set Design - Martin Chadwick
Scenic Artist- Noreen Lobo
Set Construction - The Garrick Team
Carpentry - Nigel Catterall
Sound & Lighting - Leroy Philbrook
Properties - Jacquie Williams, Anne Chadwick, Heather Whittam
Wardrobe - Lynne Atkinson and Madeline Masters
Prompt - Lynne Cummings
Front of House - John Atkinson
Publicity - Lynne Atkinson
Programme - David Lewis