Looking back on the day The Fab Four came to town and JFK was killed
As days go, it was a memorable one – seeing The Beatles perform and learning President Kennedy had been assassinated.
The events of November 22, 1963, are intensely familiar to Claire Spratt.
Not least because all of it was experienced by her mum, Jean Butler.
I Want To Hold Your Hand – which is being staged in Brough and Cherry Burton this month – is an account of the day the Fab Four came to Stockton On Tees.
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"Mum says it was bedlam," said Claire, a Brough-raised playwright and director.
"It was a struggle just getting down the high street to the theatre.
"There were two shows – at 6.15pm and 8pm – with an audience of 2,500 for each, and more than a 1,000 people milling about just trying to get a glimpse of The Beatles."
The contrast between the intense excitement of seeing the all-conquering Mop Tops and the loss of JFK – the great hope of liberal America – is played out in an ordinary terraced house in Claire's lightly fictionalised drama.
Jean's experiences are shown through the character of Sylvie, an excitable 16-year-old, with a version of Claire's grandmother – Annie Hanrahan – also among the featured characters.
In another nod to real life, the play takes place around a chiropody shop run from the front room – mirroring the business Claire remembers her grandparents ran.
"It was, 'Don't let the budgie in, Mrs York's having her corns done'," Claire said.
The drama is a follow-on from Blitz Bride – a Second World War drama which Claire's Halifax-based company, Planet Rabbit Productions, began touring last year.
I Want To Hold Your Hand shows the family 20 years on from that first installment, which was inspired by Claire's grandmother's war-time memories.
A third play in the trilogy, looking at their lives during the 1970s, is planned.
Claire says the success of Blitz Bride, which continues to tour the country, is down to its truthfulness – an approach she has followed in this latest 1960s-set drama.
"It is all drawn from real life," she said.
"When we staged Blitz Bride my gran got mobbed when she came to see it.
"All these people were desperate to know if certain things in the play – such as the dress catching fire on the morning of the wedding – actually happened.
"But it is the crazy stuff that is true, it is the gentle moments that tend to be made up."