Reviewed by Jan Mellor
As a fellow Wiganer, I always felt a connection with Stuart Maconie – he came from the same town, we are the same age and we both used to drink in the same little pub (although I don’t think we ever met). The main difference between us however, is that I do not have the skill and ability to write honest, humorous, engaging books nor have the ability as Stuart has, to bring the same qualities to his stand-up shows whereupon he talks with such passion, knowledge and enthusiasm.
In the smaller Quays Theatre at The Lowry in Salford, Manchester the show felt intimate and informal and we all felt highly privileged to hear this expert of northern life talk us through the Jarrow Walks of 1936. It was very apt that the book was released 80 years on from this auspicious event and we the audience were keen to hear how this historic event came about. Stuart enlightened us on how the times around 1936 were very like the times of 2016 (when he wrote the book) regarding politics, Europe and lack of industries. Throughout his nearly 2-hour talk Stuart intrigued the audience with his reliving of the Jarrow march from 1936 as he himself completed the same march in 2016 as research for the book. The faith that the Jarrow men (200 of them) had in believing that marching to London with their 6,000 word/200 signatures petition and the guidance of MP Ella ‘Red’ Wilkinson leading them, would result in the government building places of work in their home town, was admirable, however there is little knowledge of or recognition for these brave men until now in Stuart’s insightful and yet humorous read.
Stuart is a very confident speaker and people remarked on how he recalls his book with natural ease and confidence. He was as engaging a speaker as he was an author and the nearly full theatre loved him. He made us laugh, gasp and jeer at his tales and the quick one liners were brilliant. The photographs of his stopover towns on route were authentic and comical and the photos of the 200 Jarrow men (and 1 woman!) were moving and nostalgic without being too sentimental. The audience were totally hooked by his information and facts and Maconie held the room in the palm of his hand. Although what happened to these 200 men once they reached London was diabolical – the story of the camaraderie and unity of these northern men was outstanding.
Go and see Stuart give you glimpses into the essence of his amazing book. Buy a copy and enjoy. A great and enjoyable evening.
A brilliant topic, brilliant author and I am sure the book will be a great read, as the insight was, you guessed it, brilliant!
For other shows at The Lowry in Manchester visit www.thelowry.com or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000