***** (5 Stars)
Theatre Royal, York - Tuesday 18 February, 2014
Based on the screenplay by Mark Herman, Brassed Off is the story of a tight-knit mining community. It follows the uncertain future of the town mine, and the future of the employees, exploring their lives before and after the closure of the mine whilst focusing on the importance of their brass band.
As expected John McArdle gives an incredible performance, especially in the final scene (not giving too much away). Andrew Roberts-Palmer, Kraig Thornber, Gilly Tompkins and Helen Kay work so well together that energy just radiates off the stage, substantially starting the second half where both couples are drunk and end up swapping partners, which just becomes hysterical without a dry eye in the house.
There is also an incredible connection on stage between Clara Darcy and James Robinson, which makes their love story somewhat believable even if slightly exaggerated at times.
The presence of the York Brass Band is simply mind-blowing! The sound hits the audience directly and is a hell of a lot better than any recorded music they play in-between the scenes. In a way, the band completely up-stage the actual acting itself, but a lot of credit goes to the actors.
The set design is simple and hardly changes throughout, with the mine always in view. It is impressive how so many different environments are shown without having to use any elaborate sets or having to conduct huge set changes.
Brassed Off is a brilliant production perfect for York, with Yorkshire vs Lancashire jokes and sly digs at the late Margaret Thatcher. And although considerably younger than the majority of the audience, I enjoyed it just as much as the little elderly lady sat next to me who at the end of the night turned to me and exclaimed, “Well that was cracking!”
Brassed Off is playing at the Theatre Royal, York until Saturday 1 March and will embark on a tour. Full details here: http://theatrecloud.com/brassed-off/tour-info