Kay Mellor’s A Passionate Woman at Leeds Playhouse open now until 10 June

25th May 2023

“I’m a passionate woman Donald, I needed a passionate man”


The day of her son’s wedding should be the happiest of days for Betty Derbyshire, née Wilson, but her thoughts are elsewhere. In the loft, mostly. This is where audiences will find her  as Leeds Playhouse treats them to a new production of the late Kay Mellor’s funny, touching and distinctly northern play, A Passionate Woman – open now until 10 June.


These beautiful shots show Designer Rose Revitt’s  cluttered loft setting as the morning of the big day dawns. Here we find our protagonist Betty, played by television and stage actor Katherine Dow Blyton, tidying, reminiscing and evoking memories of her earlier life. Neither her husband Donald, played by David Crellin, nor her son Mark, played by Tom Lorcan, can coax her down as a ghost from her past, played by Michael Bijok, reminds her of the passion she once had.


“I think everybody has objects that hold a lot of meaning for them. I am a naturally sentimental person so I can really understand that feeling of encountering an object that feels like an old friend,” says Rose. “A single item from your past can evoke a whole range of memories. I think that’s the experience that Betty is having, and I bet that’s probably something a lot of us can relate to. It’s the idea that one simple object to one person means something so deeply to someone else.”


Directed by Tess Seddon, the production is staged in memory of the leading British dramatist who died in May last year. It returns to the Playhouse’s Courtyard theatre in her home city of Leeds 30 years after it was first staged there to incredible acclaim.


“I feel so honoured to be directing the play in Kay’s home city,” said Director Tess Seddon, who lives in Leeds, trained at Leeds Playhouse and runs her own company, TheatreState, in the city. “She was such an icon of northern writing and opened so many doors for so many people. To bring A Passionate Woman back in her memory, and in celebration of her work and legacy, feels like a huge honour.”


This original Playhouse production of Kay Mellor’s award-winning drama propelled the Leeds writer into the theatrical spotlight with a story crafted from a surprising disclosure by her mother years before. The play transferred to the West End and was adapted into a hit TV drama starring Theo James, Billie Piper and Sue Johnston, and was later restaged at Hull Truck Theatre in 2010 starring Kay herself in the lead role. The launch of the play three decades ago also marked the start of a long, fruitful relationship between the Playhouse and this extraordinary storyteller.


Katherine Dow Blyton (she/her) is best known as Emmerdale’s popular police officer turned vicar Harriet Finch and as Chrissy in the multi award-winning hit TV series This is England. Tom Lorcan (he/him), who plays Mark, Betty’s son, will be familiar to Playhouse audiences from The Damned United. He also starred in the Old Vic’s A Monster Calls, and recently played Mike Hargrave in 30 episodes of ITV’s Coronation Street. Michael Bijok (he/him) makes his Leeds Playhouse debut in the role of Craze and David Crellin (he/him), Wuthering Heights, West Side Story Royal Exchange, plays Donald.


Completing the creative team with Tess Seddon (she/her) are: Set & Costume Designer Rose Revitt, Dr Korczak’s Example, Leeds Playhouse, which won her the 2019 Linbury Prize for Stage Design and Best Designer at The Stage Debut Awards 2020; Lighting Designer Amy Mae (she/her), Say Yes to Tess, There Are No Beginnings, Leeds Playhouse; Sound Designer Annie May Fletcher (she/her), sound designer on Hedwig and the Angry Inch in 2022, leading to a What’s On Stage Award nomination for Best Sound Design; Asha Jennings-Grant (she/her), Movement and Intimacy Coach; and Assistant Director Xolani Crabtree (she/her), A Little Night Music, Leeds Playhouse and Opera North.


Listings Information

A Leeds Playhouse production

A Passionate Woman
By Kay Mellor

Directed by Tess Seddon
Courtyard Theatre, Leeds Playhouse

20 May – 10 June

Box office 0113 213 7700. Book online