TOUCHING, thought-provoking and well observed are just some of the superlatives to describe the Ade Morris play, The Boadicea of Britannia Street, which was well performed by the four-strong cast of the Apollo Players.

The story centres around a newly-established creative writing group, run by Fran, a journalist with a local paper — and the mix of characters who join it.

Fran's aim in helping to develop their writing skills was to develop a play and song about Boadicea — queen of the Britons and a symbol of the British woman with backbone.

Each character shares their trials and tribulations with each other — a little bit at a time as trust develops, making it a slow-burner for the sparse Apollo Theatre audience.

Penny, a somewhat feisty PE teacher, and Annie, an abrasive, down-trodden housewife, have an uneasy and sometimes fractious relationship, with Janet, a librarian, and Fran, instilling some calm when needed.

The bond between them grows as revelations about their private lives surface.

Penny gets pregnant with her married ex-boyfriend, with the prospect of becoming a single mum, while Annie's black eye leads to her revealing the abusive marriage she had suffered for many years, Janet believing she could be a lesbian and Fran fighting a losing battle with cancer.

As an ensemble piece, the chemistry between the characters, and the actors who played them, developed at just the right pace to keep things interesting.

It was refreshing to see, for the first time since watching the stage version of Calendar Girls, a show dedicated to the development of friendships between women from a variety of backgrounds.

Glenys Lloyd Williams excelled as the pivotal Fran, who helped liberate each character and develop close friendships between the four with her patience, kindness and wisdom.

Even the letter she wrote to them before her eventual death sealed the friendships of the other three as each read a passage from it.

Abbi Leverton, as Penny — an effective narrative bridge between scenes — grew into the role nicely.

I found the role of Annie quite a conundrum.

Helen Clinton Pacey was worthy in the part, but the weak, Allo Allo-style Officer Crabtree comedy gimmick of messing her words up, triggered by her shattered nerves, was irritating, pointless and added nothing to an otherwise decent script.

It wasn't until near the end, when news her estranged husband had a broadsword embedded in his head — and which amazingly caused her to speak normally — that I warmed to Annie.

Janet's character was pretty lightweight in the scheme of things, but Carole Crow performed well enough to get herself noticed.

The play can still be seen this evening (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday) at 7.30pm.