Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 8 February 2014

For those old enough to remember the miner's strikes of the 70's and 80's, this play will bring back some of the emotions that you may have felt, and I, as a miner's son felt a pang of patriotism to the cause, even though at the height was too young to really take in the hardship of the whole scene.

It was very easy to feel sympathy for the miners in the play with the loss of their livelihood hanging like a noose over them. The loss of, not only their job, but for some their homes, their families and their dignity. But music for these men ran through the core of their solidarity and that's what kept their spirits up and saved them from losing all hope in what must have seemed a hopeless world.

There was plenty of laughter but equally there was plenty of sorrow and heartache and emotions were like a pair of scales as one minute you were laughing but seconds later, having lightened the scene, there was tragedy. the fear of the diseases that sprung up from the coal dust, attempted suicide when Phil ( Andrew Dunn from "Dinnerladies"), felt that he couldn't lose anything else. After all his home had been taken from him, his wife and family had left him, his father, Danny (John McArdle best known from his "Brookside" days),was dying in hospital and his clown act for the kids was dying a death as well, took himself up to the coal face and tried to hang himself.

But through all of this, Danny held on to the hope of winning that final Brass Band competition, and that's what the band reformed to do, and they did.

The majority of the band onstage were the real thing, the Trent Brass, with a little bit of help from a few of the actors, including the "outsider" Gloria (Clara Darcy), who played a beautiful rendition of "Concerto D'Aranjuez" on the fugelhorn. Gloria, was also the love interest for young Andy ( James Robinson), who pleased the ladies in the audience by appearing in just his pants a couple of times, also worked in management at the pit. Even though she was on the side of the men, she was looked on as the outsider because of her job. It didn't stop her from losing hers though with the rest of the men.

Other notable performances by Luke Adamson ( Shane ), who played Phil's son and part time narrator, Gilly Tompkins (Vera), Helen Kay (Rita) and Rebecca Clay (Sandra), the wives who tried to keep it all together back at home, and on the picket lines.

A brilliant production which kicks off a two month tour from this week, and if the patriotic music like "Jerusalem", "Danny Boy" and "The Floral Dance" doesn't get you, then the Union Jack flag waving and the camaraderie will definitely bring a tear to the eye and a lump to the throat.

I've heard that it's almost a sell out so please get your tickets as soon as possible because this is one production you won't want to miss.

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