You Say Tomatoes; The Garrick

A vibrant mosaic of character and romance was presented by The Garrick last week. A marriage of love and comedy pirouetted on stage in a production of You Say Tomatoes - written by Bernard Slade and directed by Martin Chadwick - at The ACE Centre, Nelson.

In this warm and witty tale, American TV producer Libby seeks the screen rights to the novels of British author Giles. But the road to romance is filled with potholes, the mismatched pair loathing each other’s national culture. For the most part, characterisation was as rich, detailed and colourful as the scenery: an English eccentric’s study; a messy but hipster New York apartment. But at times, I admit, it seemed a little undercooked.

Sparkling chemistry, nevertheless, between Carole Bardsley and David Kendrick made for a believable romance: burning sexual tension tenderising into empathy and understanding. David Pilkington as Fred walked straight in from Only Fools and Horses: bright, breezy, fun; wheeling warmth and comedy like curls of sunshine on a summer’s day.

For personal reasons, Bardsley used her script on stage. This slowed her performance and a degree of naturalness was lost but given her private challenges she did a terrific job at delving into the vulnerabilities of Libby, delivering a sassy and assertive personality underpinned by insecurity.

Kendrick, with his sharp comic timing, was marvellous as Giles, investing the character with a wealth of idiosyncrasies and a charming wit cracked by insecurities.

Though at times a little uncertain, Katy Taylor presented an adorable personality as Daisy, injecting her with warmth and enthusiasm.

Costume changes were a little slow but for the most part the pace bounced along with ease - much like the bell-aching laughter reverberating about the theatre. This indeed was a play rich in colour: of comedy and character.

Laura Longworth - Burnley Express - Friday 7th April, 2017


by Bernard Slade

Burnley Garrick Club

Directed by Martin Chadwick

Bernard Slade's play, Same Time Next Year is probably the most well-known for the theatre. This play, You Say Tomatoes, from the creator of some of television's best loved series such as The Partridge Family and Bewitched, though not so well known, is certainly worth doing. Very briefly the play highlights the differences between English and American attitudes to a whole range of subjects.

Libby, a somewhat past-her-prime TV producer is trying to convince Giles, a somewhat past-his-prime novelist, to give her the rights to televise some of his books. The major problem is that Libby, a New Yorker, dislikes the British. As she says, "When I visit England I set my watch back 300 years."

Giles is British through and through, zealously guards his privacy and finds Americans loathsome. As he says to Libby, "I loathe [American's] worship of the almighty dollar. I hate what you've done to the English language. I am deeply offended by your excesses, your waste and careless pollution of the atmosphere."  Despite these differences in attitude, the two are encouraged to get along by their friends, Fred and Daisy. Daisy is Libby's assistant and greatest admirer. Fred is Giles's long-time friend and mentor but who loves all things American, especially TV.

Before the play started there was an announcement to say that, owing to recent personal problems, the actress playing the role of Libby would be using the book.

Whatever the problems were, it was very obvious that the actress playing the role of Libby, Carole Bardsly, had very little need of the book as her characterisation was spot on. From her American accent to the constant flashing smile whenever the occasion needed it, Carole became Libby.  This was a superb performance and one of which she should be very proud, all the more so under the circumstances. It is a testament to her playing that the book became merely a prop and was in no intrusive. Although it must have added a certain difficulty to her actions on stage, such as taking off her coat, or when she was undertaking aerobics, in no way did it hinder her movements.  Congratulations, Carole, on a superb job, well done.

Playing opposite Carole was David Kendrick as Giles. To use a cliché, what a tour-de-force performance this was.  His interpretation of an ultra-private, bookish gentleman was finely nuanced with a crescendo and diminuendo in dialogue at appropriate junctures creating dialogue that was riveting.  The unease he felt at allowing his novels to be turned into television plays was very real.

Supporting roles were played by David Pilkington as Fred Craddock, long term friend of Giles and Katy Taylor as Daisy Holiday, secretary and confidante of Libby.

Giles  is described as a Londoner, eminently blessed with a natural wit and cheerful attitude, his spry movements were those of a man much younger than his 70 years.  This role suited David to a 'T' as he bustled around, doing the shopping, seeing that Giles was looked after and, with his light-hearted attitude to life in general, created a loveable character.

Daisy Holiday, a North Carolina girl with an appealing attitude towards life, was played very confidently by Katy Taylor, a young  actress who is expanding her repertoire on stage with roles such as this. She is a leading player of the future I have no doubt. As the character of Daisy, her wide-eyed optimism was always liable to cause people to under-estimate her intelligence,

What really came across in this presentation of You Say Tomatoes was the obvious bond between all of the players, supporting each other so that they all kept the story nicely bubbling along.

By modern standards, It is a very long play, running as it does for two and half hours.  Inevitably there were some longueurs but that was the fault of the script and not the performers.

Thanks to skilled direction by Martin Chadwick, this was a beautifully played ensemble piece which will have pleased the audience, and a production of which all those involved can be very proud.

ACT Drama Agent