Love On The Dole

Written from the heart and performed with passion, Beckie Mills’ revival of this 1930’s social drama would do credit to a much larger production house than the tiny Finborough.

Co-adapted by Ronald Gow and Walter Greenwood (who wrote the original novel whilst he himself was searching for work during the Great Depression) it paints a vivid and depressing picture of working class life in Hanky Park, an industrial suburb of Salford, Manchester where cramped conditions and (if you were lucky) poor rates of pay were the norm.

With the mills closing, proud men like Greenwood’s Mr. Hardcastle found themselves out of a job and unable to support their families, humiliatingly forced to rely on whatever their sons and daughters could contribute to the household.

The next generation dreamt of a better future and escape from a life of skimping and scraping to make ends meet. But although romance might be the answer to everything in the movies, real life isn’t quite like that as his daughter Sally (Emily Dobbs) and teenage son Harry find out all too soon. She chooses a socialist activist Larry (Carl Prekopp) over the shady but wealthy bookkeeper Sam Grundy, and Jack Monaghan’s young Harry, proud as punch in his first new suit, learns that love comes at a cost.

Janie Booth’s pragmatic old biddy of a neighbour (who’d never turn her nose up at a fat belly so long as it had a gold chain hanging on it) gets some of the best lines and provides much of the humour, William Maxwell’s seething Mr. Hardcastle epitomises all the pent up anger and frustration of a decent man brought low through no fault of his own and (although it takes a leap of imagination when Sally and Larry’s hike over the moors is restricted to a clamber over the kitchen sink) Olivia Altaras’s detailed design, worn out dishcloth and all, admirably conveys the clean but claustrophobic conditions of the period in this enduringly hard-hitting drama.


Finborough, Finborough Road, SW10 9ED
Tube: Earl’s Court
0844 847 1652
Until 2nd October
£11 – £15

Review: Louise Kingsley