Wednesday, 6 July 2016

"Brassed Off" by People's Theatre Company
Nottingham Arts Theatre.
"Brassed Off" is about the troubles faced by a colliery brass band, following the closure of their pit.and follows the lives of the Grimley miners and shows how their fight, and the closure of the mines impact on their personal lives and the continuation of the Brass Band which holds the community together.
Gloria Mullins has been sent to her home town of Grimley to determine the profitability of the pit for the management of British Coal. She also plays the flugelhorn, and is allowed to play with the local brass band after playing Concierto de Aranjuez with them. Her reason for the visit is kept a secret but comes out adter she re-ignites the flames of passion with her old flame Andy Barrow, who also plays in the band and is a miner.
The play's narrator is Shane Ormonroyd (Marcus Whybrow) from the perspective of the elder version of his eight and half year self. A lovely innocent child-like portayal of a boy and his loyalty to both parents when the closure forces the split between Phil (Jonathan Allen) and Sandra (Bushra Greaves).
Christopher Collins (Andy) and Amy Mondschein (Gloria) are the old flames and you can feel the tension and divided loyalty in Andy as he decides to choose between the miners he works alongside, and the love of his 25 year old life in Gloria. Mining and the band are all he knows and to lose both, as well as Gloria, is catastrophic to him.
Amy is back on stage after about 20 years and this is a personal role for her as she can actually play the flugelhorn and has done so since she was a young girl. Her father, Stanley also used to perform with the original Grimethorpe Colliery Band. Being able to act that convincingly and able to play an instrument of such emotion all in one body is a talent this production could not pass up on.
There are some wonderful characters in this play, not least Jim (Robert Suttle) and Harry (Gary Thorne), and their wives Vera (Marie Rogers) and Rita (Jenny Scott). Both couples providing much of the comedy in the play.
There's an awful lot of passion in the play and the leader of the band Danny (Graham Lambert) is one very passionate character. Passionate about the band and the people in his band, and Graham really draws this heartfelt passion out of the character. His speech at the end of the play when his band has played and won at the Royal Albert Hall is enough to bring a tear to your eye.
Molly Benner, Alex Williams, Jude Forsey, Molly Fitches, Barbara Benner,Mike NewboldLucy Wakefield, Tina Valambhia, Roy SmithVernon Lloydand Mark "Sev" Davies complete the cast list.
Making a gorgeous and highly emotive sound on stage are the Newstead Brass Band. There is just something about the sound of a brass band that gets the patriotic hairs standing to attention on the back of my neck and this band did just that. You can't help but well up when you hear them play "Danny Boy", "Jerusalem" and "Land Of Hope & Glory".
Directed by Chris Mercer,assisted by Mike Pearson, they just did everything right, Nothing could be bettered and they must be feeling like they are living on Cloud Nine this week., especially after the opening night's standing ovation, which was richly deserved by all actors and musicians involved.
I must also mention the set which was designed by Chris and constructed and painted by a very talented bunch of PTC regulars (you all know who you are). What seemed to be a simple sound lighting design was the responsibility of Rob Kettridge and Richard Zamorski. Simple, probably not, effective, most definitely.
There was no mention of a vocal coach for the accents but there was no wavering from the broad Yorkshire accent throughout.
Having seen the stage version of this only once before at Derby Theatre, I knew what a wonderful heart-warming, but heart wrenching story this was. This production, and at this political and economical unstable time, is well timed and makes the story even more relevant today because we can sympathise with the characters on stage and their plight.
And that's another thing, I know quite a few of the actors on stage but I didn't see the actor because they made me believe in the character they were playing. A testament to the talent which Nottingham's community theatres constantly show.
It was great to see this play so well attended and such an appreciative crowd for such a wonderful story.
"Brassed Off" is on at the Nottingham Arts Theatre until Saturday 9 July 2016, but don't hang around because if you miss this one, you'll be well and truly brassed off your self.

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