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Shafted

Date

9th September 2016

Society

Marde Hen Productions

Venue

The Strutts Centre, Belper

Type of Production

Play

Director

Jennie Jordan

Report

Author: Joyce Handbury

The ethos of this group is to produce innovative plays by new writers and ‘Shafted’ is their latest production. It is written by local playwright, Jennie Jordan, and mainly concerns the conflict between Jack Greatorex and his son Paul, who were on differing sides of a miner’s strike, and their families. The ambience of the piece was very apparent from the outset as we, the audience, were ushered down a long corridor by demonstrators bearing placards and shouting ‘Stop Pit Closures’, ‘Save our Jobs’, ‘Coal not Dole’ etc. and were led into a small room with seats on three sides of the performance area. The set comprised of wooden crates which throughout the play became seats, tables and desks, added to by the use of various props - simple but very effective. Appropriate back projections were made all the more impressive as they were superimposed onto an archway above the main exits and entrances used by the performers, and the use of brass band music complemented everything perfectly. The play opened with Jack talking with his son, Paul, who had returned to attend his mother’s funeral. I found this a little off-putting, because whilst Jack’s mannerisms and voice were portraying an older man, he looked the same age as his son! However, the next scene set things to right when Jack stood up straight, undid his tie and ‘lost’ his stick and we had gone back in time. Neil Winfield as Jack and Wayne Parkin as Paul gave very strong performances. Their interaction was credible and was particularly moving when, at the end of the play where we were back where it all began, their disagreements of the past years were finally put to rest and the family, could become a family again. Mark Poole was excellent as Irvine Beardsmore, the militant veteran of an earlier strike, and towards the end of the play, his extremely long speech and angry outpourings were superbly delivered. Martin Weston was very convincing as Eric Armstrong, the Strike Liaison Officer, who, in the end, had to admit defeat and go back to work in order to support his wife and family. Good support came from Mark Wilde who played two very contrasting roles firstly as Police Sergeant Danny Craven, and then as Barry, a member of the gay community. Alex Rampling as Paul’s wife Linda, and Jane Robertson as Jack’s wife, both gave very fine, believable performances. Taking on several challenging roles were Marie Stone and Rebecca Bagnall. These included a DHSS Official, Policemen, a Local Union Official, Colliery Management, and two women against the strike, all of which were extremely well executed. Adding further support was Sophie Mander and Andew Barlow. This was a very thought provoking, intense and moving piece of theatre brought to life by a very talented cast. Congratulations must go to Director/Writer Jennie Jordan, to Producer Stephen Lee Rees and especially to Marde Hen Productions for giving support and backing to the work of new writers.