New Play Based on a True Story, How You Love Me, Explores Love and Sexuality in the 1960s

How You Love Me is the debut play of Manchester based theatre company, Unheard Theatre. Written by our very own Chloe McLaughlin, the play set in 1962 is based on a true story and opens at 53Two Theatre in Manchester on 19th September for two nights only. Chloe tells us more about it…

Before I came to work at Northern Life, to support my work as a writer and actress, I worked in a bakery flogging pies, cakes and sausage rolls to the good folk of Burnley and its surrounding areas. One of my duties while there was taking celebration cake orders. Now, I’ll be honest, I hated taking celebration cake orders. There was just too much pressure. They were expensive, the form was complicated and let’s be honest, if you make a pig’s ear of it and spell Ashleigh as Ashley there’s not really much you can do about it… However, one day I found myself ‘floating’ at a different shop when an old lady came in wanting to order an anniversary cake and as luck would have it, I was the only person there who knew how to take a cake order.

How You Love Me
Sam Murphy and Josie Connor in rehearsal

Fake smile plastered on, I greeted a sweet elderly lady. We had a folder filled with example cakes separated into different occasions and as I flicked through them with her. I decided to try and find out more about her event in order to help her choose the cake best for her. On the off chance, I asked her how long she’d been married.

“Ten years love.”

I then asked her a question which was the catalyst for a conversation that stayed with me for three years and inspired my latest play, How You Love Me.

“What is ten years? Is it tin?”

“Oh, well she better not buy me a tin of beans!”

After we laughed off the joke, she proceeded to tell me that even though they’d only been married for ten years, they’d been together since the 1960s! A story of true love, pain, class, sexuality and heartache emerged. It turns out she was married when she met her wife and so they proceeded to have an affair. It was an incredible, awe inspiring story that highlighted just how far we’ve come in a short space of time in terms of our acceptance towards LGBTQ+ people and so How You Love Me was born.

The story follows Marie (played by Josie Connor) a respectable woman who thinks she has her life sorted. She’s followed all the rules – married her childhood sweetheart Ernie (Dan Allen), a respectable man with a respectable job from a respectable family. She’s given up her job to become a housewife, she’s ready for children and so what more could she possibly want? With most of her days spent alone, Marie misses working and so Ernie suggest she joins a ‘Keep Fit’ class in order to ‘be in female company’. There she meets Liz (Sam Murphy) and all of a sudden life isn’t quite as perfect as it seems. Bonding over chocolate éclairs, music and lunges, Liz shows Marie a whole new world and in the end she must make a decision… to do as society expects her to or risk everything and do as her heart wants her to.

How You Love Me is directed by Olivia Nielsen, a Manchester based director. Olivia explains why she feels the play is important:

“I think the play shows us how quickly we could go back to where we were if we aren’t careful. It’s easy to forget how far we’ve come, but it’s important we remember it. The play is set in the 60s and unfortunately a lot of the anti-homosexual views that are expressed are still held by certain individuals today. That saddens me but I think this proves why stories like this still have such a place to be told. Sometimes we need to remember what we have put people through to remind us never to allow this to happen again.”

With the play being based on a true story, many of the cast have found themselves striving to honour the original story. Including Sam Murphy who plays Liz:

“I think the fact it’s a true story makes the play even more amazing. I didn’t realise that it was based on a true story until we began rehearsals. That just made me fall in love even more. It’s extremely powerful – these stories happened to people and it is only right we tell them with justice.”

How You Love MeActor, Daniel Allen admits he’s excited to get on the stage especially as the play is based in the north:

“I’m very excited as it’s my first time performing at 53Two. I feel very fortunate to be doing it with such an incredibly talented cast and crew. I think we definitely need more northern based theatre. I’ve worked with some of the most talented writers, directors and actors since graduating – all northern. There’s a real plethora of talent being hidden from the masses and we need to embrace them!”

Catch How You Love Me at 53Two, Manchester on 19th/20th September. The show starts at 7.30pm and tickets are priced at £8 and can be bought at  53two.com/how-you-love-me.

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