Betty

Previewed 5 July 2002, Opened 9 July 2002, Closed 3 August 2002 at the Vaudeville Theatre

One woman comedy show written by Karen McLachlan, starring Geraldine McNulty and directed by Kathy Burke

Betty tells the story of naive spinster Betty Buchanan whose eyes are opened when her washing machine spins out of control on her 49th birthday. Awakened to dizzying new heights of pleasure, the confused Betty sets off on a bizzare pilgrimage with hilarious and unexpected results in a desparate attempt to rid herself of her addiction to the spin cycle.

"It was on the morning of my 49th birthday when first I was seized by a strange fit of passion..."

Geraldine McNulty brings to life a coachload of extraordinary souls, brilliantly observed, on an incredible journey of discovery in this one woman stage comedy.

The cast features Geraldine McNulty. Directed by Kathy Burke with designs by Alice Power, lighting by Jon Linstrum and music by Alastair Collingwood.

This production was originally scheduled to play for a limited 12 week season up to Saturday 28 September 2002, but closed after just four weeks on 3 August 2002.

"This is a one-woman play, competently directed by Kathy Burke and pretty well performed by Geraldine McNulty. Her Betty Buchanan is a twee spinster who wears a light blue cardigan and a pleated grey skirt and appears not to have heard of sex, let alone the female orgasm. She's also a Roman Catholic, which is why her encounters with the washing machine send her first to the family doctor, who offends her by recommending more of the same, and then to the local priest... I kept wondering if McLachlan was a lapsed Catholic who had been pulverised by old-school nuns in childhood; but her programme note, which is far less silly than her play, suggests that she comes from a Calvinist background. That may help to explain her obvious ignorance of the Church and her hostility to religion, which she seems to see as a hypocritical conspiracy to terrorise people into denying their sexuality. It doesn't, however, explain the tittering triviality with which she treats her subject." The Times

"Geraldine McNulty is a marvellous comic actress blessed with a natural personality and iron technique. In Karen McLachlan's funny monologue - a mixture of Alan Bennett and Shirley Valentine - she plays Betty Buchanan, a 49-year-old spinster who discovers ecstasy on top of her washing machine during the rapid spin cycle. As a Roman Catholic, she confesses her delight and is told by her salivating priest to go on a pilgrimage. On the journey to Iona, she enjoys yet more thrills while singing Psalm 23 to the vibrations of a tuning fork. And on reaching the island, she lies on the shore, covered in spume, before a climactic, guilt-free reunion with her trusty kitchen companion. At only 75 minutes playing time, Kathy Burke's production is a bit skinny for such full commercial exposure. But Miss McNulty is a joy." The Daily Mail

"Karen McLachlan's subject is the misery of sexual guilt and confusion, as Betty finally escapes from the attitudes drummed into her by hypocritical clergy. But while the play might be classed as a bold, dark comedy, I found it sour and rather patronising. For a start, Betty is an unconvincing character. What does she do? How does she live? How has she reached the age of 49 knowing nothing at all about sex?... Geraldine McNulty gives a cracking performance as Betty, producing an orgasm just a few minutes into the show and holding the stage from then on in. But even she cannot shrug off the uncomfortable feeling that we are laughing at, rather than with her. And indeed a rather snide attitude pervades the play. It is damning of the Church, callously dismissive of old people and completely tasteless in places... Meanwhile, the whole area of sex and spirituality, pain and ecstasy, religious fervour and physical extremity is reduced to cold comedy. McLachlan can certainly write - there are some good one-liners and some nice observations, and Kathy Burke's dynamic direction keeps the show's energy levels up. But the unpleasant tone of the piece means it just won't wash." The Financial Times

Betty in London at the Vaudeville Theatre previewed from 5 July 2002, opened on 9 July 2002 and closed on 3 August 2002