The decade might be set in history as ‘Swinging’, but for many of us who lived through the ‘60’s the appellation has only a marginal connection with the realities of life. Change certainly came in the later years, but when Stan Barstow published A Kind of Loving in 1960 the country was still steeped in post-war morality and social conventions. The production of John Godber’s stage adaptation by Bang Theatre at The Jack Studio Theatre captures the control these had on the minds of the old and the grip they exercised on the behaviour of the rising generation.
A revealing insight into the period.
Barstow's semi-autobiographical work places Vic Brown at the centre of the story and the same is true of the play, in which he also narrates events taking place around him. There are times when it feels like a monologue with interjections. He’s almost never off the stage, but Adam Goodbody, who provides the backbone of the production, successfully distinguishes the two sides of his performance, maintains a lively pace, along with a strong Yorkshire accent, and admirably captures Vic’s changing feelings and moods. Responding to him, Courtney Buchner plays Ingrid Rothwell, the young girl from the typing pool in the factory where Vic works as a trainee draughtsman. She’s eighteen and he twenty. Goodbody and Buchner convey the awkwardness, uncertainty and fear of love and sex along with compliance to the expectations of the day when she ends up ‘in the family way’; the euphemism of time when the word ‘pregnant’ was regarded as rather rude.
It’s at this point that their surrounding families really come into their own. Simon Chappell and Annabelle Green as Ingrid’s parents and David Kerr and Maggie Robson as Vic cover the spectrum of reserved understanding, moral indignation and social condemnation typical of those days. Tragedy follows not long after the marriage which is then placed firmly on the rocks, but the young couple eventually find a kind of loving that will do for the time being at least.
Director Elizabeth Elstub has successfully recreated the conservatism of the age along with the rumblings of change. It’s a little flat at times but nevertheless makes for a revealing insight into the period.