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The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd (1975)

The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd

A play by D.H. Lawrence, performed at the Nottingham Playhouse (September - 25 October 1975).


Set in a small mining community, The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd charts the breakdown of the marriage between Charles Holroyd, a coarse, drunken pit-worker, and his embittered wife, Lizzie.

Disturbed by her husband's erratic behaviour, Lizzie is tempted to elope with the local electrician, Mr Blackmore.  At her lowest ebb, she wishes Charles dead.  In a cruel twist of fate, Lizzie's husband then loses his life in a mining accident. 

Mourning her loss, Lizzie rediscovers her love for Charles and is forced to reconsider his character.

Cast: David Beames, Diane Fletcher, Pat Keen, Arthur Kohn, Chris Lillicrap, Simon Lord, Mark McManus, Malcolm Storry, Bridget Steele, Jean Taylor Smith, and Zoe Wanamaker


The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd was Zo's first production with the Nottingham Playhouse Company.  For insight into the play, she and other company members visited the birthplace of writer D.H. Lawrence in Eastwood, a former coal mining town in Nottinghamshire.  'We visited where Lawrence lived it was great to perform a play in an area where you were surrounded by all of that [heritage]', she recalled, when the Playhouse celebrated its 60th anniversary  (see 'Zoe Wanamaker: Nottingham Playhouse Made Me' interview).

Zo was invited to join the Nottingham Playhouse Company by Richard Eyre, when he became artistic director of its theatre.  They had previously enjoyed working together in Edinburgh (on plays such as The Cherry Orchard).  She speaks warmly of the 'Intelligent, funny, sensitive, encouraging and enthusiastic' director (see 'Zoe Wanamaker: Nottingham Playhouse Made Me' interview). 

The 1975-6 season at Nottingham was a formative period in her career; Zoe has praised the 'fantastic range of plays' in which she was given the opportunity to perform, during her nine months as a member of the company (see 'Zoe Wanamaker: Nottingham Playhouse Made Me' interview).  In addition to The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd, she appeared in The Beggar's Opera, Jug, A Streetcar Named Desire, Pygmalion, The Servant of Two Masters, and Trumpets & Drums.

In this production of The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd, Zoe played the relatively small role of Clara, an unscrupulous young woman who associates with Charles Holroyd.  She later revisited the play to star as the title character in a 1995 TV adaptation.


The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd by D.H. Lawrence (text)

With thanks to Geoff for some of the production details.

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