Review: DieHard Gateshead at Gateshead Caedmon Hall
"Battle It Out Until I
Get My Own Way"
Gateshead Caedmon Hall
Thursday 16th July 2015
Ruth Raynor has written a dynamic play about the life, during the current austerity, for some women in Gateshead. It works brilliantly because it keeps both a clear sense of perspective and a wicked sense of humour which frequently had the packed Gateshead crowd laughing.
Ruth has based the story around some of the women that she has met. As the story opens it is clear something is wrong as the leader of Gateshead Women’s Centre, Lesley, is taking a phone call. She quickly reverts to her happier face, with positive mental attitude, once the first 2 participants arrive. Sandra, who hates yoga, and the mother of 6, Katie, are at the centre of many of both the light hearted and difficult moments of the play. Julia comes across as positive but she also has her reasons for attending the centre.
One of the key reasons why this production works is that whilst each character is identifiable, they are not just simple, lazy stereotypes. When Rosie appears on the scene to lead 6 weeks of drama with some “games to get in the right zone”, the characterisations of the centre’s regulars have already been accepted by the audience. Each character is likeable, which helps, and there hasn’t been an overload of unnecessary exposition.
The story then unfolds as the ladies plan to put on a play about a fishmonger with Bruce Willis attributes that saves the staff at Tescos from an extremist attack with many funny consequences.
Each character was wonderfully portrayed and the only complaint is that I wanted more. Surely DieHard 2 is on the way?
The production then leaves some interesting questions. Have the creative industries got as much to offer people who don’t normally participate as those people have to offer the creative industries? Are the arts something that can be cut in a recession or should it have equal status to other services through the impact that it has. Which services should be cut back in austere times? DieHard Gateshead leaves many questions unanswered.
The Gateshead performance was then followed by musical performances by 3 sets of musicians. Another Penny performs 3 songs covering 3 centuries of austerity in a fine folky way. They were followed by Ribbon Road who retained the folk sensibilities with the songs included tales about the miners’ strike. The final performer was the superb multi-instrumentalist Joe Solo, who is based in Scarborough. He remains ever the optimist and his engaging style eventually lead to the packed room standing on their chairs, shaking instruments and singing along to one of his catchy songs about the workers struggle. He is at the centre of a movement to have gigs on the weekend of the 2nd October with the positive refrain “We shall overcome”. The three sets of musicians fitted in well with the overall concept of the evening.
A wonderful night with a strong message.
Read the original North East Theatre Guide preview: Preview Link
DieHard Gatesheadfeatured a cast of five:
Christina Berriman Dawson