REVIEW: A Different Way Home, Oldham Coliseum

Runs until Saturday, February 9

JIMMIE Chinn’s one-hander is a brilliantly written northern play, perfect for the Coliseum audience, where it received its world premiere 21 years ago.

But for it to work, it must be delivered with equal skill by the actor playing Leslie – in act one – and his sister Maureen in act two.

Kenneth Alan Taylor, who directed the late great Roy Barraclough when took the part all those years ago, has stepped masterfully into the Coronation Street legend’s shoes and obliged Chinn’s superb script with a performance full of subtlety, pathos and outstanding comic timing.

It was clear from the response of the audience how excellent this production is and what a popular figure Taylor – who first trod the boards at the Coliseum way back in 1959 – is locally.

Leslie grieves the passing of his mother with whom he has lived all his life. We get the moving story of how his mother died at Boundary Park hospital at Christmas.

Clearly, lonely he has some cutting things to say about sister Maureen who lives not far away.

Then in act two, we get Maureen’s side of the story. And of course, Maureen turns out not to be as bad as Leslie paints her and he isn’t the angel he thinks he is.

BAFTA award winning director Noreen Kershaw has done a fine job of maintaining true to core of Chinn’s work while giving Leslie and Maureen a little more stage movement than – I am told – was the case when Barraclough first played it in 1998.

Kershaw told me when I interviewed her during rehearsals two weeks ago that the audience might be tempted to join because both characters conduct carry out an imaginary conversation as if you’re in the room with them.

And she was right. I swear I heard someone joining in with Maureen and replying to her in act two.

I didn’t seen Barraclough’s performance 21 years ago, but I remember a now-retired former colleague did. She raved about his performance.

In my view, Taylor’s reprise deserves equal credit alongside Kershaw for this wonderful production aided by Celia Perkins’ fitting stage design.

It’s a shame that the programming at the Coliseum means this play only runs until Saturday. My advice is book your seat now for one of the remaining performances.