Shafted! – by John Godber
After an extensive career in writing for both the screen and stage that has spanned over forty years and seen no less than 37 plays published and performed, John Godber has returned with a brilliant new comedy – Shafted!
Following the success of Godber’s earlier comedies such as the nationally renowned Bouncers; this production from The John Godber Company and Theatre Royal Wakefield is typical Godber in that it uses pure Yorkshire wit whilst simultaneously creating a real emotional impact.
In Upton in 1984 the miners were defeated, and Harry lost his job. The play traces what happens to Harry and his wife Dot in the following thirty years after the miner’s strike. In a series of short scenes we see the couple suffer through unemployment, becoming window cleaners in Wakefield and eventually opening their own B&B in Bridlington!
The roles of Harry and Dot are played by multi BAFTA winning husband and wife duo John Godber himself, and writer and director Jane Thornton. The two work effortlessly together to portray a couple who are struggling through the backlash of the pit closures.
The play is journey through a series of moments in time that intelligently links the story of their lives together through the glimpses that the audience is privy to including some particularly witty moments where you can appreciate a scene knowing what is to come next!
Godber, the son of a miner, brings something wholly naturalistic to the character of a man whose only livelihood and social group was taken away from him and therefore cannot simply bounce back as so many were expected to do. His comic timing and witty quips are warmly welcomed amidst a narrative that puts into perspective how the lives of those affected changed during the aftermath of the strikes.
Like Godber’s character Jane Thornton’s is profoundly realistic. Dot is hot-headed, appears constantly exasperated with her husband but displays in her monologues to the audience that she loves Harry and is concerned only about the welfare of their relationship and their ever-changing financial situation.
The fact that the two are married in real-life is evident in the spontaneity of the dialogue and the interaction between the two characters. The little looks, the repetition of certain lines as they argue with each other and the undeniable love-hate relationship that is evident in almost every marriage.
The set is simple; a garden gate is all that is needed to signify Dot and Harry’s house, along with minimal props such as a ladder or a watering can. The costumes too are modest and subtly signify the aging process as each scene represents a different year, indicated to the audience by subtitles.
This play has been skilfully handcrafted to depict an ordinary working class couple whose lives were turned upside down by the closure of the pits. Without being too political this play is poignant and powerful in that it exhibits what happens in the aftermath of a tragic event without focusing too heavily on the event itself.
Shafted! plays the New Vic Theatre until Saturday 2nd April (to book tickets click here) and will continue its 2016 UK Tour to THE MARYLEBONE THEATRE, REGENTS UNIVERSITY LONDON, NORTHERN STAGE, NEWCASTLE and STEPHEN JOSEPH THEATRE, SCARBOROUGH.