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The Glee Club

Date

14th March 2012

Society

Altrincham Garrick Society

Venue

Garrick Playhouse

Type of Production

Drama

Director

Alan Rothwell

Report

Author: Kevin Proctor

Set in the early 1960s, The Glee Club tells the story of six miners who escape the monotony of the pit through song and beer.

Each of the six characters brings their own story to the table: Colin (Adam Gonet), the affable Billy Fury manqué seeing a vision of salvation in a six-string guitar. Bant (Barry Spencer), bitterly split from his wife, who expresses himself through his fists and as a singing drag queen!  Though, the darkest secret is harboured by Phil (Peter England), the musical director of the group, he has been blackmailed by the suggestion that he has been inappropriate with boy members of a choir in which he is involved. In a show of solidarity, the singing miners rally around – until another secret is brought to light.

Billed as ‘Brassed Off’ meets ‘The Full Monty’, I can see how that makes sense though I can also see why the story has never quite ‘took off’. The script is bleak and its presentation is dated, the director (Alan Rothwell) staged the play sticking to what I presume is its traditional roots, which is great, but it would have been nice to see a bit more creativity for it to be presented for an audience of today.  I personally prefer to see plays reinvented rather than repeated.

The setting is a locker room come rehearsal room at a Yorkshire coal mine, in which the actors hacked away manfully in a rave attempt to breathe some life and laughs into a rather dull script. Possibly a case of too much talking about deep inner emotions and not enough ‘happening’ to engage the audience? I’m fully aware that this is the play and is by no means a negativity towards any of the competent players who all did what they could to inject energy and spark into the text!

More often than not in this game we are performing to our friends and family, it soon became clear to me why we rarely see this production around. Not only do the male actors need to be talented vocalists and (many of them) play instruments, they’re also required to perform one scene nude. Despite some of the audience’s senseless reactions, the guys carried on with such impressive proficiency, I was in awe with what seemed such a fearless approach to such a daunting task.

The highlights for me were when the guys sang, it added uplift and delight to this sombre play. This project has clearly required the cast to have a strong bond, I can imagine the guys have had a ball doing this play and have made friends for life (if not already).

The theme and emotion of the story carried strong: a prominent yearning for something better, whether it is the warm wind of Sorrento or the freedom to be one's self.