16 July 2012
Another celluloid favourite of mine, being attempted by The Westovian folk in South Shields. I am always a bit cautious coming along to these things, when I know perfection has already been undertaken on the the big screen. Could they do it justice? will it be a bit of a cringe-worthy effort, lets see eh!
Brassed Off is the wonderful tale of Man v Coal v Family v Man again.
Set in Grimley, deep in the heart of the Yorkshire mining community, this play by Paul Allen sets out to challenge the beliefs and hopes of man,woman and child.
The pit is under threat of closure due to Thatcher and her ways, the only hope of claiming some pride from the terrors of redundancy lies in strike action and the Colliery Band. Peeved off from work and the depression that it causes the miners and their families, the band is their only way of letting some steam out (and a good drink at the end, sometimes-during rehearsals!).
Times are tough though, Phil (Craig Richardson, as funny and brilliantly acted as ever) is just about to lose not only his home, but also his marriage. Sandra (Corrine Kilivington, doing the gritty wonderfully again), his wife thinks that he should take the money offered by the pit to be made redundant, pay off their debt and start afresh. Phil is adamant that there will be light at the end of the tunnel, but only if he can swing his way to getting a new trombone. We see through the eyes and the ears of Shane (Isaac Gardiner, more about him later), their son, how damaging all of this is to the family harmony.
If it wasn't that that bad, then Phil's dad Danny (David Cooke, who played a blinder. Mr Postlethwaite would be so proud), an ex miner himself, chronically ill with Pneumoconiosis, is the illustrious band leader, Danny doesn't take kindly to emotions and is all fuelled up to make a name for himself and the band in the national championships.
Gloria (Rachael Walsh, as sassy and in top form as ever) is an outsider to the band, but is soon taken on. With her musical and beauty skills, Andy (James Barton, great performance) hopes that he will soon be rekindling his childhood love for her.
What will the pit outcome have on the families? What about the blossoming love affair? How will the band do on their hopeful route to The Albert Hall in London?
The Westovians totally did do it justice, they did add a little bit of Geordieness to the plot, which worked a treat. The film by Mark Herman is a British Classic, but this would give it a run for it's coal dust any day!
With such a grimey plot you wouldn't think that there would be much laugh-ability involved, me and my +1, Dianne, laughed the place down. Some fantastic gritty bits of hard dark humour, interlaced with fantastic acting from all on stage, made this a wonderful night of theatre.
Notable mentions for (new to me) Isaac Gardiner, I am not sure how old he is, but his monologues and interaction with the rest of cast was a joy to see. Someone to be watched methinks.
The Westoe Colliery band played some wonderful music during the play, strangely enough their plight echo's the plot of the play, so was wonderful to hear the emotion coming through from them.
I don't think I have heard as much course language on stage, since 'Stags and Hens' but this fits in perfectly with the grittyness of the play, with hard life becoming harsh life.
Great lights and sound as always from Ian Johnson and Peter Codling.
Denver and Val Codling, producing and directing, must take a bow for bringing together the memories of old and putting them back out there for all to remember. Great work!
Brassed Off is emotional, raw at times, a great laugh and very worthy of a night out at the theatre in 'Shields.
Brassed Off runs until Sat 21st July.