19 October 2016
Reviewed by Louise Watts
My sister and I attended The Hawth theatre in Crawley to watch the local production of Brassed Off. This show was performed by Chequer Mead Productions who are a theatrical team based at Chequer Mead theatre in East Grinstead. They were supported in their performance by the Horsham Brass band. It was a one night only performance as part of the Hawth’s new “Brass Season 2016-2017”.
The production is based on the screenplay by Mark Herman from the incredible film and has been adapted by Paul Allen. It is set in the old mining town of Grimley in South Yorkshire in 1994. It would be impossible to have a story based there which didn’t involve some politics surrounding mine closures. Sure enough, there have been several mine closures in the region and everyone local is concerned about their jobs and livelihood as the future is very uncertain. Everyone has to have their way to relax though and for some local miners this is in the form of playing in a brass band – The Grimley Colliery Band. The play follows the band in both a personal and musical capacity.
The leader of the band, Danny (played by Pete Jenkins) is the spirit of hope and community but can he continue to keep everyone in good spirit with the fear of unemployment looming? He can… with a little help from the beautiful Gloria (played by Jade Clarke). Gloria is the childhood sweetheart of band member Andy and couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Her arrival gives the band a new lease of life and enthusiasm, but that is short lived when they discover that she works in management for British Coal Board. Can they continue to work with her and keep their success as a band going? They certainly can and triumph at the National Semi-finals. But with every up there follows a down and they receive bad news that their mine is closing. One miner – Phil (Danny’s son) has lost everything, his family, home, job and is on the edge of losing his will to live when his father collapses. While this would destroy some, this reignites Phil’s passion to take the band onwards and upwards and peaks at the National Championships in The Royal Albert Hall, London.
This is a truly lovely story which explores all angles – it demonstrates that despite personal and political clashes, it is possible to work together to achieve success. It has a wonderful triumphant ending despite having several traumas along the way. It is highly politically charged as you would expect in this setting but has a wonderful mix of political issue with some good, clean comedy thrown in!
The Horsham brass band were on stage throughout the performance and it was wonderful to see them merge with the cast to form a united team. The quality of the music was outstanding with several well-known pieces being performed. My personal favourite being “Danny Boy” closely followed by the Grand Finale of “Land of Hope and Glory” with a little “Jerusalem” popped in for good measure! I absolutely love a brass band performance and I was not disappointed – a truly impressive show by the Horsham Brass band,
The cast was small but perfect. The most outstanding performer for me was young Shane, this young lad can only have been in his early teens but what an amazing performance he put on, it was easy to forget that this was an amateur production as the quality was so high, I very much hope to see the Chequer Mead Productions crew perform again in the near future.
The only negative I could find (after searching hard) was that there is some rather bad language in the show and as a result of that I would not recommend this for children. To be honest, the storyline with the raw political emotion would probably be difficult for them to understand anyway so even without the swearing (which is totally in keeping with the setting of the story), I wouldn’t have recommended it for children anyway. I would however recommend it for adults of all ages who want to see a funny, light humoured, politically and emotionally raw, thought provoking show,
The Hawth theatre is a good sized family venue which hosts many successful shows and is happy to be used for local performers as it is big names and shows. It is a true community theatre. Parking is easy and free, there is a bar serving drinks and on some evenings they host a pre-concert meal. All staff are friendly and well presented. A truly lovely theatre.
I would have to rate it 5/5 for the production and 6/5 for incredible performance!
For other shows at The Hawth Theatre in Crawley visit www.parkwoodtheatres.co.uk.
The Hawth, Hawth Avenue, Crawley, Sussex, RH10 6YZ | 01293 553636