Based on the 1996 film (written and directed by Mark Herman), Brassed Off is the humbling story of the final days of Grimethorpe Colliery and it’s shattering effects on the many workers and families that relied upon it. Adapted for the stage by Paul Allen and revived for the New Vic stage by Director Conrad Nelson and his team – this heartwarming play will delight audiences for the next few weeks in Newcastle-under-Lyme.
A cast of 10 are supported by a young company, a small community company and local brass band – the TCTC Group Band who still play regularly to this day.
The story follows Phil (William Fox), a man struggling to keep his family afloat, his colleagues and their only reprieve from all the misery – their brass band – who could even go on to the final of a competition at the Royal Albert Hall. The deep feeling of anguish and resentment towards the government for closing the mines is clear to see. A new band member arrives, Gloria (Clara Darcy) from the management, who joins through feelings of nostalgia despite increasing suspicion of who’s side she is really on.
The cast impressively merges with the brass band at large, playing their instruments including a beautiful solo section by Clara Darcy.
A simple set is intelligently worked, allowing for complete transformations of the space from home, to changing room, to performance venue. For example, a drop in the stage superbly illustrates the men coming up from the pit and also acts as a focus point later on in the play for one of the plays most poignant moments as Danny gets overcome by his struggles.
The play beautifully illustrates the times of struggle and the glimmers of hope, broken up by humour that cuts the tension skilfully.
Teams of three children also form part of the cast, and on this occasion we had the pleasure to watch Fred Conway as Shane – playing an 8 year old who forms a major part of the narrative. He has a lot to do throughout, but also key moments in opening and closing the show. He is very impressive – confident and assured in his performance. Clearly a natural performer.
No moment of the show will disappoint – it’s a very strong play that will no doubt sell very well for the New Vic this month. Many audience members will connect to the show in some way. It plays until Saturday 22nd June 2019 and makes for an excellent evening of entertainment (matinees are also available!).
To get your tickets – visit newvictheatre.org.uk.
Photography by Mark Douet