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Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Review: Shafted! at Newcastle Northern Stage



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The Garden Gate Drama

Shafted!
Newcastle Northern Stage
Until Saturday 16th April 2016

“…the miners, united, will never be defeated…”

Whilst there are plenty of productions discussing the immediate effects of the 1984/85 miners strike, such as Billy Elliot, John Godber’s latest play examines the post strike fallout for one family. Starring John himself, along with his real wife Jane Thornton, the two handed play starts in the West Yorkshirepit village of Upton.

John Godber has been a prolific dramatist, producing popular plays such as Bouncers, Teechers, Shakers and Up And Under during his time as artistic director for the Hull Truck Theatre. Shafted!, for his own production company, thrusts him back to the colliery village in which he was born. The language and situations come from that region of West Yorkshire in the same way that Billy Elliot is fixed on East Durham.

The story begins on a set draped with miner’s banners and featuring a garden gate. A couple are awaiting the final redundancy settlement to be organised. The immediate financial hardship leads to meals consisting of whatever can be scraped together – especially as they owe the local food store so much money. Harry waits at the garden gate, watching the world going by and insisting on which types of work he’d be willing to take on. Dot, in the meanwhile, tries to make ends meet.

The show then shoots through the years, each scene separated by contemporary music such as Frankie Goes To Hollywood and the Human League. Harry is forced, by circumstance, to take on roles he doesn’t fancy. Dot, likewise, ends up with 2 jobs in order to pay the bills. This can only carry on for so long before Dot suggests heading to Bridlington and the seaside.

Wrapped around the situation is a dialogue steeped in Yorkshire tradition. No nonsense. Pragmatic. Matter of fact. Proud to the point of stubborn. Much of the comedy is derived from this bluntness. The success of that comedy is then limited by the appreciation of the Yorkshirewit. Other moments are much more universal and as a result the second act seemed to have many more laughs.

At 90 minutes, including an interval, the show is not a particular long one. Was the interval necessary and would the show feel different without that break?

A show featuring just 2 actors is going to be hard work for the cast but the chemistry between them is clear. Shafted! has a couple that can argue but clearly, deep down, love and support each other.  It may be over 30 years since the strike but the feelings run deep in that community and Godber’s latest offering casts some light on such strong emotions.  The play is not a safe, middle-class window into hard times. The pride, and sacrifice, of the region is not compromised in this respectable comedy.

Cast & Creatives:
Harry: John Godber
Dot: JaneThornton

Written by John Godber
Directed by John Godber & Neil Sissons
Artistic Advisor Nick Lane
Lighting & Set Design Graham Kirk
Company Stage Manager Nikki Colclough
Technical Stage Manager Sarah Follon


This review was written by Stephen Oliver for Jowheretogo PR (www.jowheretogo.com). Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook www.facebook.com/Jowheretogo.

Read the original North East Theatre Guide preview: http://nomorepanicbutton.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/preview-shafted-at-newcastle-northern.html

Tickets:

Shafted comes to Northern Stage from Tuesday 12th - Saturday 16th April 2016, 7.30pm

Wed 13 Apr Straight from Work Performance: 6pm 
Matinee Sat 16 Apr,
2pm 
Tue - Fri & Sat matinee
£24, £19.50, £14.50
Students/Under 21s: £12
Concessions Available

Saturday Evenings:
16 Apr -
7.30pm
£25, £19.50, £14.50
Students/Under 21s: £12
Concessions Available  
Post-show discussion: Wed 13 Apr
Recommended age:14+

For tickets call the box office on 0191 230 5151, visit the venue in person or book online at http://northernstage.co.uk/whats-on/shafted
 



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