Brassed Off

Date 22nd May 2015
Society Alnwick Theatre Club
Venue The Playhouse. Alnwick
Type of Production Musical/Play
Director David Richardson (director) Peter Biggers (producer)
Musical Director Jonathan Fenwick


Author: Kathryn Curry

It’s not often that an amateur company presents a play featuring an entire brass band, but that was what Alnwick Theatre Club did in performing Paul Allan’s ‘Brassed Off’.  This company always seem to push itself just that little bit further to produce something exciting and insightful and ‘Brassed Off’ delivered both. This immensely talented group did a sterling job with a subject which still stirs strong emotion even now, many years after the events on which the story is based.

The play was narrated by a young boy, ‘Shane Ormondroyd’, excellently portrayed by teenager Liam Clark. Liam played this part to perfection with superb boyish comedy timing. What a talented boy he is. His father ‘Phil Ormondroyd’ played by Paul Tutleman, is torn between his loyalty to his fellow workers and the ‘Union’! Newcomer Paul is most certainly going to be an asset to this company. His clear diction in delivering his lines with expression all worked well to give us a fine performance showing lots of emotion which easily convinced us we were right in the middle of the risk to the whole stability of the close-knit mining community. He was suitably supported by his stage family, especially his wife, ‘Sandra’ played by Philippa Mawer who desperately wanted him to put his family first and put food on the table. An actor of much experience, Jimmy Dodds, easily handled the part of the granddad, ‘Danny’. He was perfect for the part, and I was soon captivated by his acting illustrating his lifelong passion and first priority for the colliery band which has been his life-long obsession. Jimmy is a very versatile actor and showed a very sensitive side in this role as previously I have only seen him as a ‘Dame’.

The plot is essentially concerned with the strengths of the various loyalties of the miners and the conflicts between them. When an attractive female horn player, ’Gloria’ employed in the management side of the mine is thrown into the mix, feelings soon reach boiling point and the whole play climaxes at the national brass band championships at the Albert Hall. Lisa Kelly, playing ‘Gloria’, gave a sound performance. Supporting cast of miners played by Peter Biggers, Matt Bush and James Matthewson were excellent and confident in their delivery. They worked extremely well together, and were natural and convincing in all situations. They are another experienced group of actors who always give us polished performances. Peter Biggers is obviously destined to play in a Brass Band!!!  Wendy Richardson as ‘Vera’ and Fiona Cutherbert as ‘Rita’ were a very capable duo and gave us many laughs due to their silly antics and perfect timing on stage to deliver their lines, and facial expressions were super.  All minor roles were confidently carried out with good expression and slick delivery from the supporting cast.

Relying on a single set and proficient use of lighting the staging of ‘Brassed Off’ was excellent and very effective in creating the illusion of a number of difficult settings with a minimum of props and stage crew. Just a little comment - the table and chair entrances were a little tedious and could have been more efficient if brought on by cast, something to think about in future.  With such a strong cast it really would be wrong to single out individuals for special mention and I would only say ‘Well Done’ to all.

Topping off the show of course was the superb performance of the ‘Ellington Colliery Band’ whose own history has some parallels with the plot. They were a joy to listen to throughout the show and in the finale were rousing and left us wanting more.  What a very successful production this show was.  The long standing respect we have for Alnwick Theatre Club in staging plays with such high quality amateur actors certainly showed in the applause they received from sold out houses, and was well deserved.  My congratulations to all involved on a most enjoyable evening of entertainment. What can they top this with?  We look forward in anticipation.