Producing their first show in 40 years, Wolverhampton has proved the heart and drive of the theatre through their triumphant production of Brassed Off.
The show focuses on the community of a small Northern town named Grimley, whose families are suffering as the pits are threatened to be closed. Struggling with the decision to take the redundancy money or to fight for their jobs, they are all brought together in the Grimley Colliery band. When a new young lady Clara appears to join the band after returning to the town for work, she fits right back in until it is discovered she has been sent to write the review for whether or not the pits stay open.
It’s a heartfelt story of each families desperation, Miriam Grace Edwards takes on the role of mother Sandra who is hopelessly trying to keep her family together. Her relationship with her husband Phil (Christopher Connel) is beautifully orchestrated, as they face the highs and lows together. Their chemistry is completely convincing, creating characters that the audience instantly warm to as beneath their humorous arguments lies a fear that they won’t be able to keep their family fed. Ash Matthews takes on the role of their son Shane exceptionally, as he slips in between the playful nature of an eight-year-old to expressing the wise words of his twenty-year-old self-reminiscing on the past.
Bringing an abundance of humour to the production is Greg Yates as Jim and Tim Jones as Harry. The pair bounce off each other superbly with their quick-witted remarks and masterly comedy timing. This is also translated in their wives Rita (Donna Heaslip) and Vera (Susie Wilcox) who are excellently sarcastic.
The budding romance between Clara (Gloria Darcy) and Andy (Eddy Massarella) is formed brilliantly, as their relationship is both touching and genuine. However, it’s, of course, the fantastic Jeffrey Holland who steals the show with his endearing portrayal of conductor Danny. Dedicating his life to the band, he provides a poignant performance as the stern but loving conductor who dreams to take the Colliery band to the Royal Albert Hall.
What really brings the show to life is the live brass band that create a phenomenal sound, which is performed by the Wolverhampton Brass Band. Both the brass band and the community actors who join the production in the ensemble fit seamlessly into the show, making the production impeccably polished.
Wolverhampton has showcased that they are first-rate with their shining production of Brassed Off. The warming sense of community in this show shines through its core, creating a moving performance that is guaranteed to touch the hearts of the audience.
Brassed Off is on at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until the 2nd of September and tickets can be found here.
Photo credit: Graeme Braidwood