Take a fun trip with Doncaster show Ladies That Bus

Heart-warming new comedy Ladies That Bus is based on real-life interviews with bus travellers in the North.

Monday, 10th February 2020, 12:42 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th February 2020, 7:15 am
Touring show Ladies That Bus
Touring show Ladies That Bus

It’s a tale of journeys taken and not taken, of regrets and celebrations, of isolation and what it means to be free, peppered with humour, songs and original music.

The play, which is touring to Cast in Doncaster on February 18, shows a day in the life of the route 555 bus travelling from Lancaster to Keswick and the kaleidoscope of different characters that travel on it – each with their very own tales to tell.

Ladies That Bus is the creation of actor and composer Helen Longworth, who plays Hannah Riley in Radio 4’s The Archers, director Kirstie Davis, writer and actor Joyce Branagh, Barnsley-born theatre-maker and actor Eve Robertson and actor Nicola Jayne Ingram.

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It’s based on the 555 bus route that links three theatres in the Lake District.

Eve had the idea for the title. “There’s a group of older ladies down in London who regularly do trips on different buses just for a grand day out – and that idea really appealed to us.

“They called themselves the Ladies Who Bus – and so we thought we’d give it a more Northern slant and be the Ladies That Bus!”

Last September the team met more than 500 people during interviews, workshops and on the 555 itself, getting to know the area, the people and the stories.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” said Joyce, the lead writer on the project.

“We didn’t know what people would tell us – but it’s been amazing, and such a range – from secret love trysts, tipsy Abba tribute acts, teenage ‘bus tribes’ and the people that we’ve lost, to the simple things that have brought joy, as well as one real-life murder. We’ve heard it all.”

“One group we met really touched us” said Nicola Jayne, one of the performers who led workshops in local libraries.

“Some of the group had had really rough times but they were excited to tell us about their experiences. One lady even sang us a song she’d written as we gave her a lift to her hospital appointment, as she’d missed the bus!”

“One of the groups told us about their workplace annual outing,” said Helen.

“After their works annual outing got cancelled, they decided to do it themselves - they would save up all year and then all go for a day out on the bus, all of them determined to have a great time whatever the weather.

“They were so inspiring that I’ve written a rousing anthem about them. It’s going to end the show and anyone who would like to learn the song can come along to each venue, learn the chorus and then sing it along with the company at the end of the show.”

Director Kirstie said a ‘scratch night’ showing about 20 minutes of the play in its very early stages, got fantastic feedback fro the audience.

“People were calling the box office the next day to buy tickets! People were really engaged with the stories, we saw a few tears and we heard a lot of belly laughs – and that’s what we want really, people to be entertained and touched by stories that ring true.”

The show is coming to Doncaster during a northern tour. For more information, go to castindoncaster.com or ladiesthatbus.co.uk