York Theatre Royal 15/2/14
Touring Consortium Theatre Company /York Theatre Royal / Bolton Octagon Theatre Production
When Mark Herman wrote and directed the film Brassed Off few could have predicted how the film would become a part of British culture. It was one of the standout British movies of the mid-90s with memorable portrayals by the lovers Ewan McGregor & Tara Fitzgerald, and especially by father and son pairing Pete Postlethwaite and Stephen Tompkinson. It was therefore only natural that the story would end up on stage.
In a production which marries the issues of the pit closure programme, some 10 years after the mines strike, with the brass bands that were associated with the pits, it becomes necessary to find actors who have playing brass instruments amongst their many talents. As in the film the music becomes as much a star as any one performer.
Beyond the political background to the story there are two stories running through the play. The colliery band, led by Danny (John McArdle), is struggling to survive as the ballot to close the pit is being organised. His son Phil (Andrew Dunn) wants to remain loyal to his Dad and his band but is struggling to keep his family together. Meanwhile Andy (James Robinson) reunites with an old flame, the flugelhorn-playing Gloria (Clara Darcy) when she returns to Grimley after years away studying to be a surveyor.
Paul Allen’s adaptation of the Mark Herman screenplay has kept the balance of raw emotion and good humour and hence the audience are put through a spectrum of feelings. Each character seems to have an opportunity to make us laugh at some point in the story. The laugh out loud moments are not over the top and the sad scenes are not over played either. The set, by Splinter, enabled the action to flow and keep the pace up. But just like the film, it is the music gels the show together. Clara Darcy does an amazing job nailing the solo part Joaquín Rodrigo’s "En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor" – aka “Concierto d'Orange Juice”. One also feels empathy for the wives trying to both run their families and keep the pit open whilst praying that their husbands come home.
This is a very entertaining evening in the theatre.
Brassed off has frequently use of bad language and features some adult situations which may be unsuitable for children. Having said that my son just laughed when he saw the naked bottoms in the shower scene! The play continues at the York Theatre Royal (box office 01904 623 568, website http://www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk) until Saturday 1st March 2014 and then on tour as follows:
Tuesday 4 – Saturday 8 March 2014
Box Office 0115 989 5555
Tuesday 11 – Saturday 15 March 2014
Box Office 01274 432000
Tuesday 18 – Saturday 22 March 2014
Box Office 01325 486555
Tuesday 25 – Saturday 29 March 2014
Box Office 01242 572573
Tuesday 1 April – Saturday 5 April 2014
Box Office 01322 220000
Tuesday 8– Saturday 12 April 2014
Box Office 01902 42 92 12
Tuesday 15 – Saturday 19 April 2014
Box Office 01902 42 92 12
Wednesday 23– Saturday 26 April 2014
Box Office 024 7655 3055
Tuesday 29 April – Saturday 3 May 2014
Box Office 0131 529 6000
Wednesday 7 – Saturday 10 May 2014
Box Office 0114 249 6000