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Brassed Off Review: Emma Hardy
Brassed Off runs until Saturday 24th May.
Based on the much loved film, Brassed Off is a heart-warming tale of music, laughter and tears.
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How many plays can you name that incorporate a brass band into the live performance? Brassed Off brings brass band music to the theatre going public and breathes new life into the storyline of the popular film - almost ten years since it hit cinema screens.

However, the first thing you must do, if you can, is forget about the film version. Although some of the best lines are retained, the political notions of the story are more pronounced in the stage production. The laughs come, but this is a poignant play and the genre smacks of Boys from the Black Stuff territory.

It is 1994 and Grimley colliery looks set to close, which means the colliery brass band is also under threat. The future is bleak, and playing in the colliery band unites and provides characters with their only release from despair.

Telling much of the story from the point of view of one of the miner's children works well. On press night, this role was played by Paul Goddard, who gave an exceptional performance as eight year old Shane.

There are familiar faces too, Emmerdale's Janice McKenzie (Gloria Weaver) plays Rita, the wife of a miner, and Toby Sawyer, a familiar face to those who followed Hollyoaks during the early years plays the young miner, Andy. Bernard Kay takes a stern take on Pete Postlethwaite's memorable role by breathing new life into Danny, or rather exhaling it well, with much coughing and spluttering.

The audience that will most appreciate Brassed Off, due to its largely political nature and local relevance, will be those who were most affected by the events and the emotions it touches upon. It is true Yorkshire working class stuff (I have a friend from Keighley who'd love the use of 'me sen' instead of 'myself'!). As such, city dwelling audiences may overlook the huge effects of a pit closure for a village on the other side of the Pennines.

The show transfers to Birmingham Rep after this run and in parts it is still a bit wobbly, possibly as it is an adaptation from screen and the two are very different formats. However, the music is what makes this a memorable and enjoyable production. When the whole band troops around the theatre seating, it is a spine tingling moment, one which brings the whole theatre to life. The rest of the play makes use of the whole theatre space too, which also brings energy to a play that could otherwise lean too far on the heavy side.


Brassed Off runs until Saturday 24th May.
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