Review: Ladies' Day, Pick Me Up Theatre, John Cooper Studio @41 Monkgate, York, until Saturday. Box office:01904 623568 or at

AMANDA Whittington's racing cert of a winning comedy-drama began life as a response to Royal Ascot's migration north to York Racecourse in 2005.

Robert Readman's Pick Me Up Theatre have picked up on Whittington's latest update for Wolverhampton last year, adding new topical references for this week's run.

Whittington has saddled up a frisky comedy whose breeding bears hallmarks of both Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady and John Godber's stable of fast, physical, happy-sad plays, where the characters look to improve their circumstances as the ordinary briefly encounters the extraordinary.

Pearl (Bromwyn Jennison) is on the cusp of retirement from the Hessle fish factory where she works with food-obsessed Jan (Rosy Rowley); shy young Tony Christie fan Linda (Flo Poskitt) and brassy, brittle wannabe celebrity Shelley (May Tether).

Pearl's retirement-party wish is for the fish-filleting four to go to Ladies' Day at York Racecourse. Luck falls their way, chancing on four tickets in a mislaid handbag and placing a jackpot accumulator bet with each selection picked for its Tony Christie connection.

Whittington's broad comedy is underscored by darkness: each woman makes a jolting revelation while the accumulator wins pile up towards the climactic sixth race. Adam Sowter and Andrew Isherwood's roster of men (factory foreman/jaundiced pundit/wistful Irish jockey/bookie lover) each craves more happiness too. Martin Barrass had played them all in the 2005 premiere, but Isherwood and Sowter's contrasting styles further embellish the characters delightfully: a good call by Readman.

Likewise, his casting choices for the Hull ladies is spot on, blending Jennison and Rowley's experience with Poskitt and Tether's blossoming talents. All deserve a place in the winners' enclosure.