This year marks one of festivity for the Too Friendly Theatre Company as they are celebrating their 20th Anniversary. Formed in 1999 out of the remains of a different theatre group whose director deemed “too friendly” to work with, the Southport based troupe have delighted audiences in the local area for the last 20 years.
A versatile group, the company has turned its hand to comedy, farce, gritty realism and classic drama from all different eras. And, the first play they are performing in their anniversary year is Anna Longaretti’s “Sex Cells”. A poignant, wittily observed play about family.
“The play’s name is a little misleading.” explained Director and one of the company’s founder members, Cliff Gillies. “It actually refers to the cells used to generate gender during pregnancy, so it may not be exactly what people think!”
Having said that, there is a lot of humour in the play. Set in the call centre for an online “adult” store, the play follows the four women who work there. Faced with customers buying some interesting and aptly named “adult” products, the play is more about motherhood than it is sex.
“This is a play for anyone who is a mother, has a mother or dreams of being a mother.” Tracey Holmes-Smith who takes on the lead role of Lily, advises. “Motherhood has many forms and this play looks at how these women approach the challenges, heartache and joy of being a mother.”
Alongside the humour, run some moving and heartfelt moments which many people will be able to identify with. Lily herself has been in a loveless marriage for over 30 years and has a son she never really speaks to. Sylvie, a French native who is far from home, longs to be a mother but, despite countless rounds of IVF, has had no success. Janice has four children and a loving husband but has forgotten who she is as a person and Tiffany just wants to party; for her, motherhood would be a burden.
“These very different women are bound together by the small office in which they work,” continues Director Cliff Gillies. “They wouldn’t necessarily be friends, but their proximity means they know all the intimate details of each other’s lives. Sometimes, this creates a close camaraderie, but it can also create sparks of conflict, which threaten to engulf them all.”
Add into the mix, long-suffering boss Mr. Causeway, who single himself, longs to be loved and you have a rich tapestry of identifiable characters who the audience will love, hate and everything in between.
“It is an exciting year for us,” Helen Haygarth, the Too Friendly’s second founding member admits. “We have been together for a long time and, although new members come and go, the core values of the Too Friendly endure. We want to give the audience a good time and enjoy ourselves doing it. It seems to have worked for the last twenty years and we hope it will continue for twenty more!”
Sex Cells promises to be a fun and moving night out, so don’t delay. If you want to support this forward-thinking, local group in their anniversary year, then tickets are on sale now and can be booked on 01704 530460. The show will run from 16th – 18th May at Southport’s Little Theatre.