Monday, 21 September 2015

"Brassed Off" Derby Theatre production
Derby Theatre.

Having seen the film many years ago and seen it in the theatre a few years ago, I know what a good story this play has. What I hadn't prepared for was the great production of that good storyline.

Music is everything to Danny Ormondroyd (Garry Cooper), but it's not top of the agenda for some of his band, especially when there's the threat of their jobs going due to the closure of the mines during the political climate of Thatcher's Britain. It's hard for his son Phil (Jimmy Fairhurst) and his family of four and his wife to make ends meet which brings several difficult decisions for Phil, who's just trying to literally juggle his life and finances to keep a crust of bread on the table.

Elsewhere Andy (Adam Horvath) is reunited with Gloria, an old flame from 11 year's previous and the memories of their bus shelter fumblings re-emerge and are re-ignited. What Andy, and the rest of the miners aren't aware of though, is that when Gloria (Seren Sandham-Davies) joins their band as a talented flugelhorn player, she has a secret that could bring her new found fame and romance short lived.

Danny dreams of winning competitions and playing at the Albert Hall but just when this seems to be in his sights, ill health gets the better of him, and with the pits closed and the men jobless, will Danny see his dream become a reality if the band splits? After all, what use is a colliery band when there's no colliery?

The story is as gritty as it gets for a Northern play. Set in Grimley, Yorkshire in 1992, there's a lot of passion and anger which overspills into personal situations. You'll find a lot of laughter, as you do in real life close knit communities, but you'll then find yourself welling up in sympathy of the heart-wrenching situations, as well as the passion of the music.

A brilliant cast which also includes Lisa Allen (Vera), Jo Mousley (Sandra), Darren Bancroft (Jim),Howard Chadwick (Harry) and Kate Wood (Rita) and an equally brilliant ensemble. The kids in the play are also little stars in the making, especially Joe Mothershaw who, in the production I saw on Monday night, played Shane was outstanding, showing a true maturity in the role of Phil's eldest son. Joe is one of three "Shane"s.

Directed by Sarah Brigham, this is a masterpiece in Northern drama. The accents are spot on, the acting totally believable, not afraid to use many choice words throughout to reflect the anger and bitterness. And the actors actually played the instruments. And what a gorgeous sound provided by The Derwent Brass Band. A totally British sound is the sound of a brass band, a sound that is evocative, a sound that can have you marching one minute and crying the next, and when they played "Danny Boy" when Danny was in hospital, well I defy you not to feel emotional.

A packed auditorium were on their feet at the end of the night and rightly so because this is an amazing piece of theatre provided by an excellent cast and musicians.

"Brassed Off" is at Derby Theatre until Saturday 10 October 2015, and I can't rate this show highly enough for drama, passion and humility.

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