One for the Road a rage against middle age

Christine Smith, left, Gordon Park, Fiona Forster and Chris Juckes in a birthday scene in One for the Road, which plays at Limelight Theatre in April.

WANNEROO’S Limelight Theatre is going back to the 80s with its latest production, a comedy from Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine playwright Willy Russell.

Directed by James Hough-Neilson, One For The Road finds Dennis on the eve of his 50th birthday making a last-ditch attempt to break away from the confines of his middle-class, housing-estate existence.

Reaching breaking point at his birthday party, he packs a rucksack to make his escape – but everyone else wants to join him and the freedom of the open road.

Mr Hough-Neilson said One for the Road was set in the 1980s in a suburban English bungalow.

“The people living there are first-generation middle class and happy to let everyone know they have come up in the world,’’ he said.

“They flaunt their new gadgets – which were new in the 80s – and their language and prejudices belong in that era where political correctness was barely heard of.

“The first challenge was getting the right four actors and, once I had cast them, the Limelight Theatre machine swung into action with the help and expertise of president Shelley McGinn who is production assistant on the show.

“Everything is falling into place very nicely.”

A professional actor, on and off, for the past 68 years, Mr Hough-Neilson has a wealth of experience behind him – and then some.

He studied at London Drama School, then spent three years learning and performing a play a week in repertory theatre and appeared in the number one West End play Summer Seasons.

Numerous UK television appearances followed, along with radio work and various commercials.

In WA, Mr Hough-Neilson has worked with Stirling, Limelight and Playlovers Theatres over the past 26 years, performing in or directing productions such as Breaker Morant, Showboat, The Sound of Music, Phantom of the Opera, My Fair Lady, The Importance of Being Earnest, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Hobson’s Choice.

His 2006 production of The Judas Kiss at Playlovers received best director, best play, best costumes and best supporting actor accolades at the annual Finley Awards.

“I actually directed One For The Road about 15 years ago at Stirling Theatre.

“Although dated in some ways, the comedy is inescapable which makes the rehearsals great fun for all involved.”