A according to John Godber's latest comedy , Sunnyside was named the worst beach town in the country by the Sunday Times. Getting to this fictional station takes a bus and two trains. Of course, it's at the end of the line. "If you don 't likedon't come "is the gruff motto of Godber 's Barney, a man very unsuited to the role of bed and breakfast owner.
If there hadn't been Covid-19, Sunnyside would still follow the path of so many seaside towns ; stuck in the past, suffering from economic decline and sheltering endless vape shops. But with the return of the staycation we suddenly notice it again. The 'no vacancies' signs have come out - and the split between us and them in the British class system is more apparent than ever.
Because beneath the very entertaining surface of Godber's play, superbly performed by the playwright with his wife, Jane Thornton, and his daughter, Martha Godber, is a nation state flank on the haves and have-nots.
Barney is a formidable character: a bulky bear, worthy of a man who is lovable in spite of himself. But Godber's real interest lies in the other character he plays. Brother-in-law Graham is a cured working-class child who, thanks to the pandemic, has returned to his hometown for a little break. Here he tries to reconcile the high school-modern boy he once was with the retired college professor he has become, his left-wing values now theoretical, not practical.
There are shades of Blood Brothers in the contrasting trajectories of Graham and his sister Tina (Thornton), but Godber's contribution to the "laisses on account ”has an emergency in itself. Audiences switch from hoarse laughter to concentrated silence when Graham is confronted by the chatty Kelly (Martha Godber), a guest at the bed and breakfast who calls him out for ditching Sunnyside to pursue her own interests. He is very much in favor of the integration of working class children into the education system, but he likes his middle class lifestyle too much to consider them as equals.
Martha Godber is frigidly her daughter Cath, just as Thornton, like her Aunt Sue, is always eager to put on a bright smile. The three of them handle Godber's short, crisp dialogue with conversational precision in a fun yet biting spectacle.