Playing a mum whose son is flying the nest wasn’t a big stretch of the imagination for Liza Goddard,who has been through it herself.
She stars in the comedy A Passionate Woman at the Lyceum this week.
Liza said: “When I read the script, I thought it was very interesting and a lot of things resonated with me. I loved the fact that an older woman got a huge role.
“It’s a fantastic part to play and it’s northern, so Sheffield audiences will have to forgive me for my accent!”
Bigger shows use voice coaches to teach the actors different accents but Liza remembers being told a cheaper option in Scarborough a few years ago: “Go and stand in Woolworth’s and listen to the girls on the tills. I did – for hours.”
Liza added: “I grew up in Surrey so it’s lovely to have an accent. You feel like you’re a different character completely. You’re not yourself at all.”
She joked that her husband is ‘Yorkshire posh’, so she can’t copy his accent
She described her character: “Betty is all older women. Her son’s about to leave home, although he’s 37. All her life has been bound up in children so it’s a huge change. She’s wondering, ‘what am I going to do now’?”
Liza can certainly empathise with what her character is going through.
“She says she’s 19 inside still, which is how I feel. Outside is old but inside is still very young. I get a shock when I see myself in the mirror and think, ‘what happened to me?’
“When my son went off to uni, it was a terrible shock him no longer being around. I missed him like mad but I got used to it.
“It’s one of life’s major moments. It feels like you have them and two seconds later they’re leaving.”
In the show, Betty finds a way to cope with this change that leads to all sorts of comic moments.
Liza said: “She goes into the attic to tidy up and starts reminiscing.”
Her memories include thinking about an affair she had many years ago.
Liza said: “The show has a spectacular ending. It’s absolutely extraordinary.
“The audiences seem to love it.”
Like her, many women in the audience recognise similarities to their lives.
“Even a man on the first night kept coming up, saying ‘this is my story’. I had no idea it would touch such a lot of nerves.”
Leeds-born writer Kay Mellor has been to see the show, which she set in her home city, and met the actors and was very pleased. Liza admitted it was daunting as Kay has played the role herself.
She is enjoying being back in Sheffield so soon after starring alongside Robert Powell in another comedy, Relatively Speaking, at the Lyceum.
“Obviously the people of Sheffield love their city because it is so clean. I’ve been coming for 20 years and just think it’s changed dramatically for the better,” she said.
Liza loves the countryside and went to Chatsworth on her last trip.
Many fans still remember Liza from series such as Bergerac and Yes, Honestly but recently she has starred in Casualty and in the hit children’s series Grandpa in my Pocket.
She said: “I love doing telly. I grew up in telly so long ago. Shows like Bergerac are still on telly all the time, so it’s a shock for people when they meet you. They think, ‘what’s happened’?”
Not one to take herself too seriously, our Liza.
A Passionate Woman, Lyceum Theatre, On until Saturday