Sitting Pretty

by Amy Rosenthal

directed by Hazel Burrows

Performed at the

Nuffield Theatre


21st to 25th January 2014

Warms the heart and tickles the soul!

Join the art class as they recruit a new model.


Sitting Pretty is a play that centres around two spinster sisters Nina and her older sister Nancy who live together in a London flat, their lives are regularly interrupted by sweet Max, ever hopeful of something more significant will grow between him and Nina.

Out of work and in deep depression Nancy is urged to look for employment and while having a coffee in an art gallery discovers a position in an art class posing as a model, with unexpected consequences.

This new life for Nancy finds friends among the eccentric students in the art class. The philandering art teacher looks for the first time at Nancy with a fresh eye and she manages to remind Philip that he is capable of painting once again and rid him of his artists block, not posing any threat to his manhood just being a model no questions asked.

In the classroom we have a handful of well written memorable characters: Zelda, a young fisty woman about to break free from Philip and go travelling; poor bitter married Josie, who still holds a candle to Philip. We see busy cake making Bridget and her miserable husband Martin reluctantly sharing his sketch book with these fellow students. There’s elegant Sylvia bringing a little sophistication to the art sessions while young Luka sits and draws never satisfied with his efforts, but saves the day with his motorbike.
This is a play about sweet people and there’s very little of that sort of thing around these days. Everyone is very busy being gritty and I get terribly bored with it.

The Author

Amy Rosenthal is a British playwright from Muswell Hill, London. She is the daughter of Jack Rosenthal and Maureen Lipman.
Amy writes with the same sense of humour as her father Jack it is said that her style is similar to that of British playwright Alan Ackbourn.

"It was autumn 1998; I was 24 years old and embarking on a career as a playwright. I was due to begin a year as writer-in-residence at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, and, professionally at least, I had plenty to smile about. So it came as some surprise, during a meeting with a prospective director, to find that smiling was impossible. Each time I tried, a pulling sensation dragged the left side of my mouth downwards this was diagnosed as Belles Palsy a form of facial paralysis. Within three weeks, the condition had abated, Amy knew she was cured when she could smile about it."

Among Amy’s writing:

  • Sitting Pretty (1998)
  • Henna Night (1999) (winner of the Sunday Times Drama Award 1999)
  • Jerusalem Syndrome (2000)
  • Little Words (radio play)

Jack Morris Rosenthal CBE (8 September 1931 – 29 May 2004) was an English playwright,who wrote 129 early episodes of the ITV soap opera Coronation Street and over 150 screenplays, including original TV plays, feature films, and adaptations. He became a regular writer for the series and began writing for other series as well. During the 1960s, he contributed much material for various television comedy shows including the satirical That Was The Week That Was and wrote the screen play Yentl.

Maureen Lipman is Amy’s Jewish mother. She was married to dramatist Jack Rosenthal from 1974 until his death in 2004, and has had a number of roles in his works. She has two children, writers Amy and Adam Rosenthal. Lipman is a Labour Party supporter. Maureen is well known for playing Joyce Grenfell in the biographical show Re: Joyce! Aunt Eller in the National Theatre's Oklahoma!

The Director
Hazel Burrows - Director - Hazel has been a Masker for nearly 40 years. During that time she has played such diverse roles as a dying alcoholic in Our Lady of Sligo and Piggy in The Owl and the Pussycat. This is Hazel’s directorial debut at the Nuffield, but not the first play that she has directed: many will remember Ladies Day which played with much critical acclaim and full houses at our Shirley theatre, 3 years ago. Today Hazel brings her expertise and love of comedy to Sitting Pretty.
The Cast
Jenni Watson is playing Nancy, a 55 five year old woman who has recently been made redundant.  Jenni has been with Maskers for many years and started her acting career at the age of 3! Her acting challenges continued throughout her school life and drama school.  This is the first time, however, that she has been required to appear nude on stage - well almost nude!!
Jan Spiers plays Nina. This is Jans third performance at the Nuffield with Maskers. She played Mrs Chevely in 'An Ideal Husband' and Flora in 'Humble Boy'. Previous performances include Beatrice in 'Man-in-the-moon Marigolds', Nurse in 'Our Lady of Sligo', Vera in 'Stepping Out', Jan in 'Ladies Day' and last year, Helga in 'Allo Allo!'. She is excited about this production and would like to thank her sister Jackie for encouraging her to audition for the role of Nina.
David Collis is playing Max the ever attentive, kindly friend of Nancy and Nina. Convinced he is in love with Nina, his calm, if slightly confused, guidance of the lady’s leads him to a surprising (for him) conclusion.
David started in amateur theatre in 1994 and loves performing at the Nuffield and this will be his 10th time on this stage, forth time with Maskers. Previous incarnations have been a diverse as Captain Zuniga (Carmen), Hysterium (Funny thing….) and Duke of Burgundy (King Lear). He is looking forward to portraying Max in Sitting Pretty immensely.
William Baggs is playing Philip an artist. Sitting Pretty is Williams fourth production for Masker since joining 18 months ago. He's played a mouse, a lover, a king and now Phillip, who's an artist. Sitting Pretty is a comedy with much light and shade - well he would say that wouldn't he, playing the artist - but there are depths to it and it's going to be fun and a challenge balancing the humour with the raw emotion. For Phillip it's about surmounting his artistic block and being able to draw again. Not only that. It's Williams first time on the Nuffield stage which is both exciting and a little nerve wracking all at the same time, he says.
Nay Walton plays Zelda, a sassy 20 year old. Having been out of the acting scene for over 5 years she is thrilled to be making her debut for the Maskers in 'Sitting Pretty' with such a fantastically strong cast and director. Previous roles during school included Dora Spenlow in 'David Copperfield', Johanna in 'Sweeney Todd' and Honey in 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' She says of her role as Zelda that it's refreshing not to be playing the soppy lovelorn female but rather a character slightly closer to home!
Jo Fox is playing Josie, a brittle and elegant art class student. Jo has been a Masker since 2007. She had a background role in 'An Ideal Husband' in January 2008 and following this, played the hospital nurse in 'Whale Music'. Jo played the cafe waiter in Shakespeare's 'Comedy of Errors' in the open air at Hamptworth the same year. After taking a break from the acting side of Maskers due to living in London for a couple of years (but still being an active member on the social side!) she returned to Southampton and played the part of Lady Jane Rochford, sister-in-law and confidante to Anne in 2013's open air production of 'Anne Boleyn' at Hamptworth Lodge.
Avril Woodward is playing Sylvia. Avril is a long time member of Maskers. She has appeared in many productions in many venues, the last Maskers' production at the Nuffield she acted in was Uncle Vanya. Avril is looking forward to portraying someone who is described by the script as being "stately".
Marcus will play Martin, a tetchy, nerdy and uptight character who's basically fed up with his lot! He begrudgingly attends Art classes with his long suffering wife Bridget. However, he'd rather be in his own fantasy world called Althora where women don't exist! This will be Marcus' 2nd time out at The Nuffield after making his Maskers debut in 2012 in 'The Graduate'. This will be his 6th production for Maskers since then. Marcus is looking forward to this production with it's warm and humorous story. he's also looking forward to performing his funniest role for Maskers. It may not be the biggest part but he intends to make it memorable!!
Bridget, the wife of Martin, played by Sue Dashper. Sue has been involved in theatre and drama for many years. In recent years she has appeared in Maskers productions including, during the last year, playing the Human Resources Manager from hell in "Contractions" and a coutryperson in the outdoor production of "Anne Boleyn". This is Sue's first apperance at the Nuffield Theatre for the Maskers.
Luka played by Robert Osborne. Having renewed his interest in theatre while studying at the University of Southampton, Robert joined Maskers shortly after graduating in 2011. He has since acted in Ghostly Tales and worked backstage on several productions most recently stage managing Butterfly Kiss.
This is his first time on the Nuffield stage and he is thrilled to be appearing in Sitting Pretty as Luka. The thought of performing to his biggest audience to date leaves him lost for words which, considering the nature of the role, is very appropriate
The Crew  
Production Manager Ken Hann
Stage Manager Kathryn Salmon
Technical Director Jamie McCarthy
Lighting Designer Clive Weeks & Mike Matthias
Lighting Operator Mike Matthias
Sound Designer Jamie McCarthy
Sound Operator Jamie McCarthy
Set Designer John Hamon
Set Construction Roger Lockett, Ken Hann, Geoff Cook, Graham Buchannan
Set Dressing Moyra Allen
Costume Design Hazel Burrows
Props Moyra Allen, Susan Frydd, Ella Lockett


click on a photo to enlarge it

The Review
The Author's visit
The Cast
The Set
Max and Nina
Max and Nancy
Zelda and Philip
In the flat
At the café
Luka, Josie and Bridget
The art class
"Beginners and overture please..."
Zelda arrives...
Max and Nina
The flat...
"Spit it out Nancy..."
"What's that sort of sting-ray thing..."
"How does she know?"
The painting...
Zelda and Nancy
"Just - met this fellow, Englishman, living out there..."
"Jesus Christ!"
"Now. Draw me..."
"Laugh? Cross my heart love, I won't even smile..."
The cast bow
Hazel and Amy
Cast and crew with the author, on stage at the Nuffield

Thank You

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SO15 3LX

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