“Well cast, well acted and wonderfully staged”.

NODA have reviewed our last production, ‘Sex Cells’ and the review is attached below.

Thanks to NODA and all of their reps for the support ove rthe last twenty years.

SEX CELLS a play performed by ‘Too Friendly Theatre Company’ on Saturday, 18th May, 2019 at The Little Theatre, Houghton Street, Southport.

Written by Anne Longaretti in 2012, this play is set in a busy call centre, where four female employees take telephone orders for Aphrodite’s, a sex toy manufacturer. Beneath the cheerful customer service and easy banter, lies four very different women, who all nurse their own desires and disappointments.
I would suggest that there are no leading actors in this play, just a cast of five, four females and a male coming together to work very well as a ‘team’; a team that was well cast and who provided some wonderfully interesting characters. We are never told how these four disparate ladies get thrown together in a sex shop… but do we need to know!
The start of the play sees us ‘introduced’ to our four female ‘call centre workers’………
Star employee ‘Lillian’ – ‘Lily’ played by Tracy Holmes-Smith, a mature lady who is stuck in a loveless marriage and living her life estranged from her son; she buries her pain in wisecracks and work. Tracy handled this role really well; the telephone conversation with her ‘estranged son’ in Act One was ‘believable’ and ‘full of emotion’ a real highlight for me! Jenny Roby gave a thoughtful emotional performance as ‘Sylvie’ the French woman desperate to have a baby and who, after several unsuccessful IVF attempts, becomes so obsessed with pregnancy that she barley talks about anything else. Jenny was well cast and believable in this role as was Joanne Wasilew who played the part of ‘Janice’, a working mum with five children who barely has time for herself let alone her husband. Joanne always gives credible performances and as ‘Janice’ she was able to show the many sides of the character, well done. Jen Johnson as ‘Tiffany’ was impressive as the young, single, ‘Essex Girl’, who was looking for ‘the one’ whilst still being very wary of sacrifice her independence.
Making up the ‘team’ was the sole male, the gentle and innocent manager Mr. Causeway played ever so well by Mark Haygarth. Mr Causeway attempts to diffuse all the tension between his staff while suppressing his longstanding crush on the oblivious Lily.


The Cast

Two ‘outstanding’ features for me from this play were the ‘telephone conversations’ made by all four girls to/with their customers. The conversations were so ‘believable’ and ‘real’… so much so, I felt I could actually hear what the customers were asking for… which was very scary! Well done girls! The second outstanding feature was whenever any of the cast, especially Mr Causeway, were on stage and not actually ‘in the scene’ they all stayed in character … making the scene(s) much more ‘real’! Well done everyone, that isn’t always easy to achieve.
The staging was simplistic but effective and created an effective backdrop for the production, congratulations to Sue Fryer (Stage Manager). The props were very good throughout and well-managed. The costumes too, were very good and in keeping with the piece. The lighting quality was excellent throughout – thanks to Stephen Illingworth for achieving that.

This really was a poignant play that dealt with so many issues….motherhood, adoption, IVF, friendship, love, loss and so much more!

All five actors really did work their ‘socks off’. They took us on their own personal emotional journey whilst providing us with some great characterisation and so much to reflect upon…well done! There was so much I liked about this production, yet I just felt something was missing, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what that was!

Jo Wasilew as Janice

Congratulation to Director Cliff Gillies on a great job with this play, it was well cast, well acted and wonderfully staged.

Congratulations also to the ‘Too Friendly Theatre Company’ who celebrate their 20th Anniversary this year; on behalf of NODA I’d like to congratulate everyone involved with Too Friendly Theatre Company for reaching this wonderful ‘milestone’ in their history.

Tickets On Sale For ‘Sex Cells’

Sex Cells Poster Final JPEG

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.