The Darling Buds of May
By H.E. Bates
25 - 30 June, 2012
Mariette & Charliey and Ma & Pop Larkin try out many interesting cocktails
The geese come out of the oven for sunday lunch with The Brigadier
Pauline is not happy that Mariette is wining Charley's affections
Pop Larkin holds "court" wishing Mariette and Charlie a long and happy marriage
The Larkin family live in Kent “somewhere at the end of the rainbow”. Pop, who makes a fortune from various deals but has never paid any income tax, lives in rural idyllic bliss with generous-hearted Ma and their six children. When a young, earnest tax official turns up to investigate, he is bewitched by their eldest daughter Mariette, and soon succumbs to the boisterous Larkin family charm and largesse.
Welcome to the idyllic rural world of the Larkin Family! Set in Kent in 1957, tonight’s play, The Darling Buds of May, harks back to a more leisurely, peaceful time.
The phrase itself means an appreciation of what is fresh and new and refers to the opening buds that point toward the warm summer season ahead and to the freshness and exuberance of youth as it turns toward adult maturity.
The author H.E.Bates took the title from Shakespeare who coined it in his celebrated Sonnet Number18:
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
As I wrote this in the sunny second week of rehearsals, the ‘rough winds’ had diminished, and the weather was wonderful, just like this gentle, warm-hearted comedy.
Leading the way is Pop, the quick-eyed, golden-hearted junk-dealer, and Ma, with a mouthful of crisps and a laugh like a jelly! I am sure you all have images of David Jason and Pam Ferris in your heads, but we have two talented actors as our leading characters who will soon make you forget them! On stage with them is a wonderful crop of BLT’s finest - some old, some new! - including talented Kaleidoscope young people as the Larkin children. I am grateful to them all, for their enthusiasm, commitment and sense of fun during rehearsals. That is what this play is all about – FUN and FOOD!!
I warned them at the beginning of rehearsals that they would all gain a few pounds by the end of the Run! I have had an excellent Back stage crew led by Anthony Leach; and the Props team in particular, led by Yvonne, have my heart-felt thanks and admiration for their hard work in this play. Producing fish and chips every night for nine people, boiled eggs, sundry nibbles and the many, many drinks, is no mean feat!
I love this play and it has been a joy to direct. Sit back and enjoy the evening! I hope it rounds off this Season ‘perfickly’ and you go home with a smile on your face!
Herbert Ernest Bates CBE was born in Rushden, Northamptonshire
on 16th May 1905 and was educated at Kettering Grammar School. After leaving
school he worked as a reporter and a warehouse clerk.
Many of his stories depict life in the rural Midlands of England, particularly his native Northamptonshire. Bates was partial to taking long midnight walks around the Northamptonshire countryside - and this often provided the inspiration for his stories. Bates was a great lover of the countryside and its people and this is exemplified in two volumes of essays entitled Through the Woods and Down the River. Both have been reprinted numerous times. Bates was appointed CBE in 1973 and died, aged 68, in Canterbury, Kent, in 1974. He wrote well over a hundred novels and collections of short stories.
In 1931, he married Madge Cox, his sweetheart from the next road in his native Rushden. They moved to the village of Little Chart in Kent and bought an old granary and this together with an acre of garden they converted into a home. H.E. was a keen and knowledgeable gardener and wrote numerous books on flowers. The Granary remained their home for the whole of their married life. After H.E's death Madge moved to a bungalow, which had originally been a cow byre, next to the Granary. She died in 2004 aged 95. They raised two sons and two daughters. Their youngest son, Jonathan, was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on the 1982 film Gandhi.
A prolific and successful author in his own lifetime, his greatest success was however posthumous, with the television adaptations of his stories The Darling Buds of May and its sequels, My Uncle Silas and Love for Lydia.