True bond: From left, Joanna Heaney as Nurse Bev, Nicola Flood as Marlene, Liz Knight as Grace and Rebekah Lazarou as Lucy. *Photo by Jenny Burrell-Jones
True bond: From left, Joanna Heaney as Nurse Bev, Nicola Flood as Marlene, Liz Knight as Grace and Rebekah Lazarou as Lucy. *Photo by Jenny Burrell-Jones

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28: I was a little apprehensive heading into this play what with it being set solely in a cancer ward with three patients laid up in bed chatting. But a Kiss on the Bottom is a character-based play that, in this production, was superbly casted.

Written by Welsh playwright Frank Vickery, it tells the story of three female patients with very different backgrounds, sharing their life experiences, dealing with their illness and learning to live with one other.

Nicola Wilkinson nailed the character of interfering motor mouth Marlene and admits: “she’s so like me it’s scary”. It’s true, she fit into the role like a surgical stocking, churning out page after page of dialogue as if it was her own hilarious stream of consciousness.

The thing with this character is that she was wholly believable. Her character was a lesson into how to weasel information out of people through probing, presumption and provocation.

Rumoured pre-stage nerves must have worked in her favour on the opening night at Daylesford Theatre on Monday evening.

Joanna Heaney, who played the cheeky, lovable nurse Bev, did a fantastic job in her first ever on-stage performance. You could tell that being a Welsh nurse playing the role of a Welsh nurse helped her along.

Before the show she admitted to a fellow cast member that she comes out with half the stuff her character says in real life. She delivered her saucy lines with machine gun speed and a natural grace but could have benefited from projecting her voice a little more.

Playing the role of a woman far beyond her years, Liz Knight was convincing as 70-plus-year-old Grace coming to the end of her days and coping with the burden. The way the character deals with her failing health was made particularly moving by lines such as “I lost faith around the same time as I lost my hair” delivered with that daunted, distant stare that very old people have.

Rebekah Lazarou played the role of lonely Lucy well and endeared the audience to her character with her caring nature.

Nadia Hamza had a pretty small part in the play — quiet, moody and seemingly depressed patient June she doesn’t really want much to do with the other girls. But when she said to Marlene: “Would you do one little thing for me — f*** off!” she delivered her line in such contrasting tones ending in such a punch, I physically jumped back in my seat.

I was told that the all-female cast formed a true bond both on and off the stage and it certainly showed. Nicola Edmunds, who began directing the show before it was taken over by Carol Birch, did an excellent job of clubbing this bunch together.

The play cleverly manages to balance moments of laugh-out-loud hilarity with tender, poignancy that will move even the stoniest of hearts.