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Review: Grandad and the Machine at Newcastle Live Theatre

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The Ultimate Steampunk Fairytale

Grandad and the Machine
Newcastle Live Theatre
Wednesday 16th September 2015

Jack Dean delivers a classic piece of storytelling about a young girl that understands that her Grandad knows a thing or two about machines. 

It is the day before Imogen’s eighth birthday and she has been sent home from school. Again. Living in an era when the Great War has ended, thanks to great machines that are now found under the seas and misogynistic attitudes come easily in society.  She is told that girls don’t go to university or becomes engineers. Indeed, it was when a lad suggested the limitations of girls that Imogen had to prove him wrong. That’s why she was sent home.

Though they live in London, her father has not lost his Yorkshire roots. He proudly wears his cloth cap and tells his daughter, in a dodgy accent, the rules that Yorkshiremen go by. Do all, see all, say nowt. Eat all, drink all, pay for nowt.  He struggles with a London lifestyle in which everything seems to have a price.

An announcement on the radio suggests that the buried machines have risen from the deep and are heading north to London. Father decides it is time to head north immediately as his father will know what to do as he had worked on the machines during the war.

The rich story that follows is pure Jackanory for adults. Let’s face it, many adults in that show’s 30 year run were brought up on fabulous narrative.  Jack Dean’s skill is pulling together the various elements of the story through different voices and props. His engaging style ensured that the show drew the audience in. This was no story for small children but it lit up the inner child. Exciting moments involving evading capture from ticket inspectors to flying in a Zeppelin combined with the emotions that come from a loving father daughter relationship. The puppet of Imogen prompted a number of reactions from the audience.

The icing on the cake is the original musical score by Jack Dean that was performed by Josh Lucas. The multi-instrumentalist was armed with loop pedals which added to the atmosphere. The overall effect was reminiscent of Jeff Wayne’s War of The Worlds – another example of storytelling that is still the 39thbest selling album of all time. People love to hear a great yarn and Jack Dean’s tale is worthy of a much bigger audience.  

Grandad and the Machine is a sublime piece of storytelling that will have you hooked until the end. Roll on the next show from Jack Dean.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide from Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

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@mcjackdean / @littlemightyuk / #GrandadandtheMachine

Cast & Creatives:
Written, performed and with music byJack Dean
Directed by Polly Agg-Manning
Dramaturgy by Alex Chisholm
Design by Sophie Mosberger
Lighting Design by Sam-Hollis Pack
Musician / Technical Stage Manager Josh Lucas
Produced by LittleMighty

CamdenPeople’s Theatre, London Tuesday 13th - Thursday 15th October, 7:30pm
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