Review: Brassed Off @ Lichfield Garrick

Tom Roberts, Producer of the Garrick Rep Company, Stephen Brunton, President of the Lichfield Players and Wesley Kendrick, Musical Director of Amington Band

Tom Roberts, Producer of the Garrick Rep Company, Stephen Brunton, President of the Lichfield Players and Wesley Kendrick, Musical Director of Amington Band

It’s grim up North, we all know that. It’s why we live in lovely Lichfield.

But dahn sahth they think we’re in the North anyway so perhaps this is the time to fess up (as BBC pundits now say) and admit that the trials of the seventies mine deep wells of feeling within those of us who lived through them, a time when the whole country was truly divided along class lines for one of the most troubled periods in our recent history.

The Tory years of the eighties and nineties have their apologists. Brassed Off chronicles the period of the miner’s strike, already theatrically familiar even to those too young to know it from films like Billy Elliot and The Full Monty. In this Grimm world all families are reduced to Hansel and Gretel level where there’s only stale bread used to leave a trail through the financial forest and where Mrs. Thatcher’s Big Bad Wolf always holds sway. Politically simplistic it may be but it has and still can make for great drama.

So the Grimsdyke Colliery Band’s demise, mirroring the closure of its coal pit forms this heartwarming drama of how real people are more important than ideologies, and hearts are greater than things. I must say the timing of this production is particularly provoking considering a General Election is only a month away.

Local boy and now international star Director Chris Rolls does a superb job marshalling his enormous cast including a full brass band (the wonderful local Amington Band – long may they play), our own Lichfield Players and a handpicked cast of professionals. The hidden strength of Mr. Rolls’ direction meant it was almost impossible to determine any actor’s professional or amateur status.

Our own dear Stephen Brunton has the star role here as the idealistic lung-damaged conductor whose unshakeable belief in quality takes his loyal miner musicians to the top. It’s truly the role of a lifetime, and he almost outshines it.

We’d be here all night if I mentioned everybody but from an outstandingly committed cast I really do have to commend 13 year old newcomer William Stevenson as the child Shane, inheritor of all this chaos, who is the reason any of us goes on fighting. This naturally gifted actor could go far.

A truly memorable evening all round.

The performance runs until April 17 including a Saturday matinee. For tickets priced at £15 (students £10) contact the box office on 01543 412121 or go online at www.lichfieldgarrick.com.

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1 Comment

  1. Julie Kaine

    14th April, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    This production is fantastic. Having seen another production in Derby several years ago this certainly outshone that one. The use of the stage was excellent, the main characters super and the Amington Brass Band almost stole the show. I say almost as you are taken back to that time in the early 90’s where these events actually happened and the way the characters depicted this turbulent period was outstanding. Perhaps Mr Fabricant could attend to remind himself of the short sighted energy policies his Government pursued the last time his party was in power. Well done to all and good luck for the rest of this week, you deserve a packed house each night.