Family affairs bring the classics closer to home
When: Tuesday to Saturday, 7.45pm. Matinee on Saturday, 2pm
Where: Hull Truck Theatre, Ferensway, Hull
Tickets: £12 to £17.50
To book: 01482 323638
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The writer: Rutherford & Son was written by Githa Sowerby, who was born in Gateshead in 1876.
The reception: The play, her first full-length production, was inspired by her upbringing in a glass-making family. It became a critical hit at its London debut in 1912, eventually running for 133 performances in the West End.
The legacy: Sowerby died in 1970, aged 93. Despite writing seven plays and more than 20 children's books, she was, by then, a forgotten writer.
In recent years her stock has risen again – with the unveiling of a plaque in her home town and a series of productions of Rutherford & Son.
An actress in one of Britain's biggest soaps, Coronation Street, has returned to the stage. Kate Anthony tells Will Ramsey about the pleasures of Rutherford & Son
K ate Anthony is used to being a working mum. It's just that she's been a working mum in one of Britain's biggest soaps.
The actress, known for her role as Auntie Pam in Coronation Street, has become accustomed to balancing her career with the needs of her children, Lola, 11, and Nathan, eight.
"When I have big storylines I think my children get a little tired of people stopping and wanting to talk to me because they have to hang around and wait," said Kate.
"But they're generally quite relaxed about it. My kids have always known me as a working mum. They have seen me on telly. They saw me in panto. They can come to see Rutherford & Son."
Kate's latest role takes her away from the screen and on to the stage.
Rutherford & Son – written in the early 20th century by Githa Sowerby – is set in a teetering family factory shortly before World War One.
The production, which is being toured by Northern Broadsides, sees Kate take the role of Ann, sister of the factory's imperious owner, John Rutherford.
"I really liked her when I first read the play," said Kate.
"Ann is stuck in the previous century. She's stuck in her ways and has a real sense of loyalty towards the family and company.
"She's very old school and can't get to grips with the young people in the story. She has that real Northern dourness and tells it how it is. Without knowing it, she's very funny – she comes out with some cracking lines."
This British tour plays to the strengths of Northern Broadsides, the company set up by the Hull-born actor Barrie Rutter.
Based in a former factory in Halifax, the theatre has built a reputation on performing classic plays in northern accents.
This drama, originally set in the North-East, has been given a Yorkshire slant by the scriptwriter Blake Morrison.
"The play was done in New York off-Broadway quite recently, which I find amazing," said Kate, who grew up in Leeds.
"I wonder how they would have coped with the cultural differences because the play was originally set in Teesside. They supposedly attempted Geordie accents – I would have paid good money to see that."
The play has been directed by Sir Jonathan Miller, whose CV includes operas and stage shows.
"I have to admit I was in awe of him," said Kate, who joined the other cast members for a pre-tour reading at Miller's house.
"He's just a lovely guy. A very interesting, clever man. You find yourself thinking, 'I could listen to him talking forever'. There was all the business of what to call him – he said, 'don't call me sir'."
It marks a change away from the television screen for Kate, who first appeared in Coronation Street as Auntie Pam in 2008.
"I do think they had an idea of how they wanted her," said Kate.
"Physically, I know I was not what they were looking for at the time but when they saw me they obviously saw something. She was this wheeler dealer character.
"I was only meant to stay for six months but as soon as they started looking at storylines around Molly, Kevin and the affair, they thought that Auntie Pam was a good character to be involved in that plot.
"The writers of Coronation Street are so brilliant and, once you have been there a few weeks, they write with you in mind.
"They know how the character is going to speak. The longer you are there, the more formed it becomes.
"Hopefully, I'm going back at some point. The storylines go in swathes. That's quite nice because it gives you the chance to do things like Rutherford & Son."