19th April 2019
ADC Theatre Cambridge
Type of Production
Keith Gallois & Judith Collingswood
Author: Julie Petrucci
Following their highly successful production of this play in 2017, Directors Keith Gallois and Judith Collingswood supported by co-Producer Alison O’Connor took the plunge to transport the show from the Soham Performing Arts Centre drama studio to the confines of a proscenium arch theatre at the ADC. Amazingly 99% of the original cast returned to reprise their roles.
Combining the talents of the cast with the award-winning Soham Brass Band and underpinned by a strong storyline and well-crafted script written and adapted by Paul Allen from Mark Herman's screenplay, the story is laced with raw emotion and great humour providing a recipe for first class entertainment.
Set in 1994, it is a passionate reflection of the political climate of the time and against every criteria did not disappoint on all fronts. All aspects of the play brought into focus the plight and hardship encountered by a struggling mining community facing the consequences of the industry’s decline during the time of the Thatcher government.
As the fight to save jobs goes on, veteran bandmaster Danny, a former miner with dodgy lungs, was played brilliantly by David Tickner as he is striving to prevent his beloved band from folding and get them to the final of a national competition.
Darren Smith (Danny's debt-troubled son, Phil) gave a powerful performance throughout, coping with his financial problems and the consequential breakdown of his marriage. Sophie Plachcinski as Phil’s worried wife Sandra, played this role with empathy and compassion.
A feisty performance came from Amy Noonan as the flugelhorn player Gloria who is at first welcomed by the pitmen's band when they realise she is such a talented musician. Love blossoms between her and former childhood sweetheart Andy (a nice performance from Will Cahill) who is unaware of her job with the Coal Board when she arrives in her home town, flugelhorn at the ready.
There were very notable performances from Steve Perry and Geoff Fisher as tough-talking miners and band members Jim and Harry, with Sue Perry and Mandy Morrish are their loyal wives, Vera and Rita this was an extremely believable quartet.
The play is narrated by ‘Shane Ormondroyd’, excellently portrayed by Oscar Vaughan, remarkably mature and thoroughly convincing, torn between his warring parents Phil and Sandra, but full of character and optimism. Young Oscar is one to watch if I am not mistaken. At the Wednesday performance Benjamin Surridge and Ruby Fordham gave neat cameo performances as Craig and Melody, Phil and Sandra’s other children.
The drama works thanks to the superb support of the Soham Brass Band. Not only In supporting the miming actors they were tuned to perfection on and off stage and they threw themselves into the show clearly enjoying the “half-pint only”stops along the fourteen village band competition route.
The costumes, set and especially lighting and sound, particularly in the opening with the miners (aka the Soham Bass Band) surfacing from the pit, were all incredibly atmospheric prefaced as it was by the Women Against Mine Closure parading with their banners against a screen of black and white stills from the miners’ strike accompanied by the lone voice of Kerry Hibbert. All this enhanced the whole thought provoking production which left the audience thoroughly entertained and rightly so.
An uplifting evening in all respects.