Brassed Off at the Octagon Theatre Bolton Review

BrassedOffOctagonBrassed Off
Octagon Theatre, Bolton

15 May to 14 June 2014

Adapted by Paul Allan
Based on the screenplay by Mark Herman
Directed by Damian Cruden


Reviewed by Debbie Tasker

Last night we went along to see Paul Allan’s adaptation of the 1996 well known film Brassed Off at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton. I adore this quaint theatre as it is so intimate and the seating is superb. But last night the heat in there was stifling! Maybe the air conditioning is on the blink? Or they were not expecting such a warm night but it made it very uncomfortable. People were wafting themselves with anything they could find and I heard a lady on the way out exclaim ‘That’s the hottest I’ve ever been!’ That aside the staff were friendly and helpful as usual. We opted for a drink in the cafe/restaurant instead of the bar for a change, the hot chocolate and latte were lovely as were the scrummy cakes.

Set in the fictional northern town of Grimley during the 80s where the community of mining families are facing pit closure it shows the devastating effect the changes have on their lives. The colliery Brass Band is not going anywhere though if it is left up to Danny, the band leader, as he says it’s been going for a hundred years and we have survived 7 strikes, 3 disasters, 2 world wars and a depression – but do the others agree?

Full of humour and sadness in equal measures the strong cast get a powerful message across showing human spirit of a fight to the bitter end. Shane (aged 8), Danny’s grandson and Phil’s eldest child narrates. As the show opens he explains who each character is and continues to be a fly on the wall throughout with accounts of activities we don’t see. It is a very clever move and Luke Adamson plays the part of the young boy fantastically. John McArdle who most people will associate with his role in Brookside as Billy Corkhill is Danny. He looks like a professional conductor and gives a very powerful performance as a strong family man who is dying of lung disease but wants to see his dream come true – his beloved Brass Band perform at the Albert Hall. Phil, his son, is struggling with debts and his marriage breakdown. His consequent actions are hard to watch. Andrew Dunn (who I remember as Bren’s partner in Dinnerladies) is brilliant he portrays the character as both comical and tragic, I loved him. All the cast give outstanding performances and there are no weak links.

Looming at the back of the stage is the pithead machinery which keeps the subject matter never far from your mind and is the scene of a suicide attempt. The rest of the set is basic, a kitchen and the village hall for band practice there are also a couple of scenes involving a bed.

Photo credit: Anthony Robling | Cast on stage with brass band

The brass band is captivating, there are three performing on alternate nights so I am not sure which we saw. All very talented and professional they fitted in with the cast and joined in with scenes. My favourite performance was The Floral Dance and my mums was Danny Boy this was very touching as the company are situated under a lamp post playing for Danny in his hospital bed. I am big fan of Brass Bands so to see such a marvellous addition to the show was a very big bonus.

The Touring Consortium Theatre Company have come up with a gem of a show. The standing ovation was truly deserved and there weren’t many dry eyes as we left. A must see show. Don’t miss it.

Rating: 5/5 thumbs_up

Tickets cost from £9 to £24. Unfortunately the show has now SOLD OUT.

For other produtions at the Octagon Theatre Bolton visit www.octagonbolton.co.uk.

Octagon Theatre. Howell Croft South, Bolton, BL1 1SB | Box Office 01204 520661


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