Theatre review: Brassed off

John McArdle as Danny in Brassed Off. Pic: Comp
John McArdle as Danny in Brassed Off. Pic: Comp
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IT’S hard to escape the legacy that mining has left in the Lothians. From the iconic bings we pass on the way to work to worries about what enormous, empty caverns may may lie under our feet on the outskirts of town, the shale and coal industry made and destroyed many thousands of local people. Which is perhaps why Brassed Off has such resonance with its audience.

* * * * *

King’s Theatre

The story could be transposed to any industry that’s had its time, but the tale of a handful of coal miners fighting to the bitter end touches us profoundly because there are constant reminders of their struggles surrounding us every day.

The show may have been adapted from the popular film of the same name and feature the same plot, but there is a warmth, dignity and electricity to the live production that make it more than a mere copy.

Director Damian Cruden does an excellent job of enticing the audience into the story, the heart of the village cleverly recreated with staging that owes no small debt to Oklahoma and Blood Brothers.

It is indeed rare that you find yourself so immediately part of a community and their problems. The plot is deftly aided by introducing a modern narrator, Shane, taking us back to his 90s childhood. Played by Luke Adamson, the character is an earnest, sympathetic fly on the wall and an excellent tool to keep the production’s pacing at an even tempo. His role also allows for the story to step away from its original romantic comedy billing and give more attention to the families involved.

Uncomfortably sandwiched between a despairing wife and single-minded, music-obsessed father, Andrew Dunn’s stoic if exasperated Phil makes for a man that the punters can easily relate to. While John McArdle’s reserved, myopic Danny provides the show with a much needed sense of direction. The brass band competition is more of an after-thought than a point of focus in the drama. There are moments when the show could be lightened by less of an emphasis on “acting” and more on portraying the core truth of the character, but the charged music easily makes up for such pedantic niggles.

• Run ends Saturday