Gerry & Sewell
Newcastle Live Theatre
Until Sat 18 Nov 2023
Adapted & directed by Jamie EastlakeBased upon Jonathan Tulloch's The Season Ticket, the story of two lads from Dunston who simply want hope in their lives has now made the transition from sold out shows at Laurels in Whitley Bay to the larger Live Theatre in Newcastle. In doing so this is a first for the Quayside venue. The result is a visceral production that is full of energy and pathos, a show that triggers reactions from the audience at regular intervals. This is a quality piece of fine theatre.
The tale centres around two lads who don't attend school. Instead they try to survive. Whether it is stealing the McDonalds order from a family so they can eat - or trying to get a good price for an abandoned toilet they try their best in life. Jack Robertson appears as Sewell, a loyal lad with a craving for junk food. He will gravitate towards chips or the holy grail that is chicken nuggets. He not be the fastest thinker but Jack's character oozes friendly, almost innocent, charm.
His marra is the ideas man in the partnership. Gerry is creative in his plans and somewhat more quicker footed in most ways. The script allows Dean Logan the chance to reveal a lot about the inner turmoil the Gerry finds himself in. A chaotic life at home is evident though he tries to hide its full effects. The power in Dean's performance, for me, came when he gave an unspoken stare in a rare visit to school. It said so much in that moment.
The laughs are shared equally between the two, and there's more to it than the simple undertaking the Sunderland are a poor team. The timing is around 2019 and Mike Ashley is causing problems for the black and white faithful. Even the ones, like Gerry and Sewell, who dream of seeing a match in person - or even better: owning a season ticket.
All of the other roles, including narration and puppetry of their pet dog, from the talented Becky Clayburn, who darts on and off the roof of the metro without missing a beat.
...and yes there is a Metro built on the set. The Set Guise get the credit for creating a dynamic space for the action to flow through. The action is picked off thanks to Drummond Orr's lighting design. Some scenes find some music with a local theme...the first act starting, for example, with AC/DC's Thunderstruck which has the audience waving their black and white flags before the action really starts.
But the story is not just about the funny side of life. Troubled families, substance abuse and hints of other issues often punctuate the story. Whilst the two lads are trying to save money for their season tickets it is obvious that Gerry keeps moving house for a reason. This undercurrent leaves a profound impression long after the shows finishes and the laughter and applause from the standing ovation dies down.
Speaking as someone who is not a Newcastle supporter, this is a wonderful play. Whilst strongly linked to our region, it could easily be anywhere in broken Britain. Theatre has the power to be transformative - and this is one such production. Highly Recommended.
Review: Stephen Oliver
Photos: Von Fox Promotions