From villainous Sally Spode in Emmerdale to Tim Metcalfe’s long-forgotten wife, Charlie Wood Coronation Street, actress Sian Reeves shakes things up wherever she goes, and her new stage role is no exception.
While her character is causing chaos on the cobbles for poor, long-suffering Sally, Sian is taking to the road in a new stage production of Helen Forrester’s autobiographical story, ‘By The Waters Of Liverpool’.
“I’m playing Helen’s Mother, Celia Forrester, who is a wonderfully complex person,” says Sian. “Helen actually said of her mother, ‘her bouts of temper bordered on insanity’ – it really shows just how exhausted and dreadfully depressed she is. It’s a great role to play.”
The show, based on the million-selling book, also features sizeable chunks from Helen’s earlier autobiographical volumes, Liverpool Miss, and Twopence To Cross The Mersey. It set in the 1930s after the author’s father went bankrupt during the Depression.
The Forrester’s were forced to leave behind the nannies, servants and comfortable middle-class life in the South West, choosing Liverpool to rebuild their shattered lives. But they were in for a terrible shock. Taken out of school to look after her young siblings, Helen is treated as an unpaid slave.
“From money, status and class before the great depression of the 1930s, to then losing everything and being dumped in a damp bug infested house with one cold water tap, and one toilet – with seven children to look after. She absolutely cannot shake herself out of the nightmare that is now her new life. She is stunned that her husband, who once held a senior position in the financial world, cannot find work and they have to grovel for hand-outs from the local parish,” Sian explains.
“To escape the confines of their now smelly, claustrophobic house, she leaves the day-to-day running of the family to her 11-year-old daughter Helen, which manifests itself and show her as a very strict and uncaring woman”.
So, begins a bitter fight with her parents for the right to go out to work and make her own way in life. But by 1939 and with Britain on the verge of war, Helen now aged 20, has still never been kissed by a man. But things start looking up for her when she meets a tall strong seaman and falls in love.
The show is opening, for an 11-week tour, in what would have been Helen’s 100th year. The author died at her home in Canada in 2011 aged 92. Now in celebration of what would have been her 100th Birthday, an iconic Blue Plaque is being unveiled at a special event at the late author’s family home in Hoylake; a place which featured heavily in Helen’s four volumes of best-selling autobiography – Twopence To Cross The Mersey, Liverpool Miss, By The Waters Of Liverpool, and Lime Street At Two.
“I feel very honoured to have been asked to unveil Helen’s Blue Plaque,” says Sian. “Helen was a magnificently clever woman, and it will be lovely to meet some of her family at this very special occasion.”
Sian will be joined by fellow cast member, Mark Moraghan who plays Helen’s Father, and Helen Forrester’s son Robert Bhatia to unveil the Blue Plaque on Friday 21 February at Helen’s childhood home on the Wirral Peninsula.
By The Waters Of Liverpool Spring 2020 UK Tour follows a successful run at the Liverpool Empire Theatre in October 2018 when the new production premiered. Now with a new cast including Parry Glasspool, Lucy Dixon, Eric Potts, Lynn Francis, Danny O’Brien, Roy Carruthers, and Chloe McDonald the show opens on Tuesday 3 March 2020 at the New Brighton Floral Pavilion in Wirral – just a few miles from where the acclaimed author was born. After which it heads to Stockport Plaza from 10-12 March.
Visit website for full tour details.