Happy return to Delph for Saddleworth Players with award-winning production

THERE will be a familiar look to the first Saddleworth Players’ offering of the new decade.

But while it is often thought unwise to recreate former successes, there should be a happy return to the area for Alan Stockdill’s award winning Le Grand Return.

Based on a true story, the play, first written in 2014 and first performed in 2015, tells the story of Tommy, a D-Day veteran determined to travel to France to mark the 50th anniversary of the Normandy beach landings.

To do so he must ‘escape’ from Coldrick Nursing Home and so enlists the help of fellow residents Alf and Edwin.

The Saddleworth Players cast in a jeep

With admirable foresight Saddleworth Live promoters Tim Newbold and Michael Powis brought Le Grand Return to their former venture Upstairs at the Swan.

It played for five nights in two separate slots winning the Greater Manchester Fringe best new writing prize.

Now it is back (February 1-8) with a new cast of just four and a new adaptation with director Verity Mann at the helm.

“The Grand Return sounds like a serious play and it is,” says Halifax-based Alan, now 65 and only five years after becoming a published playwright for the first time.

“But there are a lot of laughs in it as well. It is a bitter-sweet tale and I think it will go down well.

Alan Stockdill

“I can’t wait to see it in Saddleworth. You get a wonderful feeling being in the audience watching a play that has come out of your head and seeing people react to it,” added Alan, whose Talking Stock Productions have not only entertained but raised funds and awareness for various charities.

“I am not trying to make myself out as Mother Teresa,” he chuckles. “But we do try to do some good with the plays.

“When we did Grand Return, the money raised over and above our expenses we gave to the Royal British Legion

“Another play about dementia, The Last Memory, raised a lot of awareness and money for various dementia causes.” 

Le Grand Return-Millgate style- features: Ian Perks as Tommy, Ian Cricket as Alf and John Tanner as Edwin. 

Alayne Whitworth plays the trio of female characters, from Matron to Belgium Border Guard to old French Friend. 

This looks to be a perfect play to blow away the January blues and have a good night out in Saddleworth. 

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