A Better You

A Better You 
by Mark C. Bourne

A Better You tells the story of a group of five very different women who meet every week at the local community hall. They spend their time organizing jumble sales and fair days and inviting guest speakers to their weekly meetings.

On the evening that the play begins, unbeknownst to the group, Cathy-Anne has been booked to do a presentation to them regarding “A Better You”, the self-help programme that she represents. Unfortunately for Cathy-Anne, the women are a rather mixed bunch, with their own concerns and very easily distracted. Things do not go according to plan!

Did Bella’s husband really leave her for a biker called Hammer? Is it the Girl Guides that keep stealing the toilet paper? Will Mildred ever master her Monterey Turn?

In the midst of trying to run her presentation, Cathy-Anne is constantly harassed via mobile phone by Barry, her partner, to discuss the lack of offspring in their increasingly rocky relationship.

Cathy-Anne teeters dangerously on the edge of a total breakdown and in their misguided attempts to help, the women accidentally kill her with a combination of Valium and dog tranquilisers. Now what on earth will they do with an unexpected body??

Just when they think that they have managed to safely stash poor Cathy-Anne in the Gents toilet, they find out that the hall has been double-booked...

Cathy-Anne - Played by Helen Bradshaw, last seen in Abigail’s Party
Bella - The rough diamond biker chick with a heart, played by Sophia Harding
Josie - Nice but dim with a breast fixation, played by Sarah Ireland
Patricia - The timid almost neurotic teacher, played by Carol Scott
Constance - Unelected leader of the Group, played by Denise Lyons
Mildred - The line dancing, slightly deaf pensioner, played by Tina Betts
Maxine - The small but perfectly vicious ballroom dancer, played by newcomer Tracy Mills-Maisner
Clifford - The beleaguered dancing partner of Maxine, played by Chris Westlake

Director - Richard Harding
Lighting & Sound – Ben Harrison
Set Design Richard Harding
Fire Extinguisher constructed by Stuart Webb

Poster by Tim Cooke

31 May 2008
Cleave Warne Hall, Rochester

4 June 2008
The Brook Theatre, Chatham

Comments from the writer

As an ensemble, it was a strong show and had some very consistent acting, so well done to you all.Sophia was one of the funniest Bellas that I'd seen, as was your Cathy-Anne. These two actresses are clearly experienced and the work that they both did to maintain tension and panic was great. Cathy-Anne's "teetering on the edge" was very nicely played and there was a real sense of the group of women's nervousness that Cathy-Anne might "turn" at any moment. Josie was strong, with good comic timing and some lovely line delivery. Constance was solid and aurally spot on. Nice and crisp and no-nonsense. Patricia started strong and I was pleased that she seemed to have a grasp of the bird-like nervousness that I imagined when I wrote her. Mildred was a very comic and well maintained characterisation and again, her experience was obvious.

Lastly, please let your Maxine & Clifford know that I was thrilled that they really "got" these characters. There is a temptation to caricature this couple, but they gave them rounded characterisations. Maxine was as bitchy, spiteful and resentful as I'd always imagined and Clifford wasn't just a downtrodden "weed", there was a real sense that he had no desire to be there and was only doing it to keep the peace. Their contribution to Act 2's pace and energy was excellent, there was a real lift in the play when they appeared.

Many thanks for taking it on!

Mark C. Bourne