The lives of these six ordinary working class people will be changed forever this one night in Blackpool in the summer of 1953. A story about acceptance, being true to who you are and the fight to love who you wish to love. More…
"Once a Year on Blackpool Sands" is about taking brave steps in a time when to love or express yourself this way was a crime. It’s about family ties and the using of “End of the Pier” comedy to mask the feelings and hidden hurts of the six misfits who join together and take, what might well have been, the first walk towards Gay Pride in England.
for a previous production “Craftily constructed play, with several interwoven strands that come together, ultimately uniting all the characters in a show of defiance against the social mores of the day...Part comedy, part love story, with a serious end and based on a true story. All six characters are excellently portrayed...A powerful ending with people throwing things and spitting at them...At the end the audience were on their feet and the ovation was justified.” Full Review
for a previous production “The basic premise of the play has a lot of comedic potential and much of it is realized...There is some difficulty of tone between the two parts of the play, and this becomes more apparent in the second half...But overall, Parry’s script convinces. The direction was a bit cumbersome, allowing the pace to drift and as series of scenes to be played with the same mood and tone repeatedly, but the strong central performances carry it...Funny, surprisingly political and full of revelations." Full Review
for a previous production "Although shrill at times, the play tries to stay realistic in its depiction of life in the fifties, staying away from nostalgia and portraying both the mental and societal oppression the LGBT community had to endure...The play shines through its acting...Although Parris’ script is certainly a strong point, there are times where slapstick seems to overtake the normally remarkable balance between comedy and serious exploration...Nevertheless, 'Once a Year...' is very good entertainment." Full Review
for a previous production “A queer tragicomedy that skilfully straddles the divide between the two genres...Parris’s script mixes Carry On farce with dramatic realism, a juxtaposition that cuts through the nostalgia and reminds us that the golden age of bawdy innuendo was also the time when gay men were routinely brutalized...Anyone would do well to seize the opportunity to see it while they can." Full Review
for a previous production "An uneven play; perhaps writer and director Karlton Parris has been inspired by the seaside setting to offset the drama with saucy humour...The gags are good but the routine goes on so long that the end of Act One is reached before the theme of the play has become clear. More significantly, the humour and the drama do not blend well together...Not a subtle play; the characters do not converse but rather make lengthy speeches at each other.” Full Review
for a previous production “A play that explores the deeply closeted lives of gay and transvestite men who seek refuge from their everyday lives. Whilst this is laudable, Parris’s play feels like three plays mashed into one...The first half is a mess, but in the second act some stronger storytelling begins to emerge...What the Americans will make of such a parochial play I can’t imagine, but there are several things that can be dealt with now to improve the production." Full Review
See it if you want to experience closeted gay life decades ago in Britain while appreciating the depth of seemingly simple folk
Don't see it if you demand excellent acting from all involved or want top-notch stage directing
See it if you're interested in plays that explore gay themes, especially acceptance, and themes about finding meaning in empty lives
Don't see it if you're looking for a light evening of theatre or you're not interested in plays dealing with fighting for gay rights
See it if You want to see a great little play about the LGBTQ community and the start of the resistance in the UK.
Don't see it if You do not want to see a story about the LGBTQ experience in the UK. The play is in a small theater and sometimes hard to see.
See it if you want to see a play about acceptance and being true to yourself (as stated in the program) in a very different time.
Don't see it if you don't like gay themed plays and ones which require careful attention.
See it if You want a look at an untold gay story from 1953. You can understand Yorkshire accents. Want to understand bravery and sadness of those days
Don't see it if Can't understand Yorkshire accents. Don't have patience to follow a pretty slow story.
See it if you're willing to be patient for a rewarding conclusion (better 2nd act) and accept that it's low-budget with uneven acting and direction.
Don't see it if you expect more of an off-off-Broadway show than you do of what is otherwise merely a noteworthy festival entry.
See it if you'd enjoy a based-on-a-true-story raunchy play, sometimes raw, sometimes poignant; a bit moving & sweet. Historical (did NOT feel dated).
Don't see it if you can't handle the raunch. Grandma goes at it w/F-bombs, etc. right from the start. Everyone else follows right along. Acting is just ok.
See it if r gay, like Brits and appreciate a romantic love story that's dysfunctional. Act 1 is near unbearable. Yet Act 2 works very well.
Don't see it if Staging, structure need help. Actors NEED mics since they speak way too low and the accents prove difficult. Act 2 grounds the story FINALLY
See it if you're curious about early LGBT history in England & the summer "walk" at Blackpool Sands, want to see a show from Britain with English cast
Don't see it if don't like single room set for many rooms, lengthy blackouts without music, anachronistic references, varying acting styles or tidy endings
See it if you like true stories about LGBT history.
Don't see it if you're expecting competent performances, writing, or direction. Amateurish is an exaggerated compliment. Keep Calm and Stay Away
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