Attending the press night of Simon Beaufoy‘s award winning play (based on his own screenplay), the well loved multi Bafta award winning 1997 film was an hilarious event, not least for the reactions and heckling of the mostly 50 something hormonal women baying for the talented cast’s inevitable striptease..egged on good naturedly by TV heartthrob Gary Lucy in the leading role.
However, it was also a thought provoking one; the ‘playing to the masses’ humour of innuendo, broad stroke comedy and striptease were juxtaposed with a very real snapshot of working class life under Margaret Thatcher in the late 80’s and the struggle for the underdog to make ends meet, alongside some poignant scenes depicting a young man’s struggle to accept and reveal his homosexuality (even attempting suicide) and the pain of divorce, a family torn apart and it’s affect.
The set was fantastically conceived by Robert Jones, able to depict a derelict steel mill, street,house, dole office, conservative club and working men’s club, with very limited set change required..the special effect pyros were particularly effective at depicting machinery sparks and the lighting by Colin Grenfell was also well designed for purpose.
If I had any niggles it would be that some of the characters were too quiet and the balance was sometimes not equal which was a problem (especially with braying menopausal women on either side) and similarly some of the dialogue was lost through gabbling, lack of clear diction and not waiting for audience reactions to subside before proceeding with the text. My American companion found it particularly hard to follow in places.
The star of the night for me was young Fraser Kelly as Nathan; a hearfelt and intelligent performance from a young man with a great career ahead of him.
Ultimately this makes for a very uniquely british snapshot of a period of time with a fantastic soundtrack for every scene change (inspiring me to get out my teenage album collection.. so many brilliant songs were used!). A strong ensemble cast and a hugely comic and entertaining night out with heart.
Reviewed by Nicole Faraday
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