Dancing with Auntie

by Bill Cronshaw

You may have heard that we all have a novel, play or song inside us just bursting to come out. This suggests an immediacy, a sense of urgency which, if ignored, will mean that the creative idea is never realised.
‘Dancing with Auntie’s’ gestation period easily outdates that of an elephant and hopefully will inspire others to turn memorable, distant events into performance art. The stimulus for this play has innocuous origins. The ‘family do’ was a regular part of my early life. It appeared as predictably as the seasons and, in my case, lightened the dismal northern winters as the family congregated to celebrate Christmas. I still have to smile as adults dismiss Christmas as a ‘great time for the kids’. It’s my belief that it’s a great time for the kid in all of us, regardless of age. And like children, adults are equally entitled to tantrums, moods and periods of idiosyncracy. ‘Dancing with Auntie’ is set in a working-class home in Manchester in 1967. What a great time to be young! The sixties were swinging, Manchester City was a formidable footballing force, and I was about to embark on a new life that would take me away from my roots. The play is all about relationships, hopes and dreams. It’s only with hindsight that I’ve felt able to use the memories of that Christmas as a catalyst for this show. I hope that you enjoy it.

Bill Cronshaw – November 2003


A wonderful play on a familiar theme. Looking back things seem so much clearer, almost funny, don’t they? Christmas 67, coming of age, clash of cultures and the dark family secrets coming out… yes you’ve seen this before but rarely so well done. The acting is some of the best seen at this year’s Fringe so far, the characters are believable and you honestly start to care for them, and most importantly, among all the confusion and tragedy, there is plenty of humour and an almost magically light touch. One of those rare plays that finds a positive message and a glimmer of hope among the rubble of family relationships and will leave you with a smile.

Three Weeks  – www.threeweeks.co.uk tw rating 4/5

“If you can remember the Sixties, you weren’t there” – it’s an old joke, frequently repeated these days, but I can remember, and so can Bill Cronshaw, the writer/drector of Dancing with Auntie. This is a particularly well-observed family drama, based on Bill’s memories of growing up in Manchester, and revolving around Christmas at the Metcalfe’s – Mum and Dad, son Barry, Barry’s Auntie Molly, her daughter Marlene and son-in-law Jed. Oh, and Susan, young Barry’s first girlfriend. After Christmas lunch there’s a family party – a chance for Susan to meet all Barry’s relations, and a chance for them to renew hostilities with each other.

Edinburgh Guide.com – www.edinburghguide.com 4 Stars / Reviewer – Neil Ingram.

Past Productions

  • Playhouse Theatre, Cheltenham 2nd – 3rd November 2012
  • Summer Play Festival, Coach House Theatre, Malvern 21st – 25th August 2012
  • Playhouse Theatre, Cheltenham 17th February 2007
  • Evesham Arts Centre 25th – 28th January 2005
  • C Central (Venue 54), Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2004 15th – 21st August 2004
  • Croxford Studio, New Olympus Theatre, Gloucester 1st – 3rd April 2004
  • The Other Space, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham 11th – 13th March 2004

Previous Cast

Barry Metcalfe
Tim Minshull (2004,2005) Peter Mitcheson (2007), Tom Stentaford (2012) 

Norman Metcalfe (Dad)
Iain Barton (2004,2005,2007) John Martin Stevens (2012) 

Beryl Metcalfe (Mam)
Lisa Defty (2004,2005) Kim Baker (2007) Anwen Ashworth (2012) 

Jed Tonks
Robbie Gardner (2004), Tim Goodwright (2005), Andrew Harvey (2007) 
Adrian Ross-Jones (2012) 

Marlene Tonks
Karen Little (2004), Kate Colton (2004), Milanka Brooks (2005)
Alexandra Chell (2007) Laura Lloyd (2012) 

Dot Metcalfe
Helen O’Reilly (2004), Helen Tuvey (2004), Jilly Breeze (2005,2007,2012)

Susan Pearson
Claire Benjamin (2004,2005), Sarah Thomas-Lane (2007), Zoe Hart (2012)