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The Touring Consortium Theatre Company present this superb adaptation of the 1996 film.  The story is narrated by Shane, the son of miner Phil and his wife Sandra, and tells of events in the early 1990s in the northern town of Grimley (the story is real events in the town of Grimethorpe), where the mine is under threat of closure, with all the employees facing unemployment.  Enter Gloria, an accomplished flugelhorn player, who joins the colliery brass band.  However, she doesn’t tell them that she is back in her home town of Grimley to complete a report on whether or not the mine is worth keeping open.  Matters are further complicated when she rekindles a childhood romance with bandmate Andy Barrow, one of the miners who will lose his job if the mine should close.

Meanwhile, Danny Ormondroyd, the band leader and father of Phil, sees all the misery of the miners, but only seems concerned with the bands success; he points out that the band has been going for more than one hundred years, and has outlasted previous closures and two world wars.

Against the backdrop of the band’s music, the lives of the miners and their wives are played out, as the threatened mine closure causes poverty, marital problems and at one point, an attempted suicide.

Despite the sometimes grim subject matter, the play has a lot of humour.  There are some wonderful one liners, and the scenes showing the drunken antics of two miners and their wives are literally laugh-out-loud funny.  However, it was also very moving.  John McCardle had the unenviable task of taking on a role immortalised on film by the late great Pete Postlethwaite, but McCardle was more than up to the task, and he was wonderful as cantankerous band leader Danny.  Andrew Dunn was also excellent as Danny’s son Phil.  The rest of the cast were just as good, namely Clara Darcy as Gloria, Rebecca Clay as Sandra, James Robinson as Andy, Kraig Thornber and Andrew Roberts-Palmer as Phil’s friends and colleagues Jim and Harry, and Gilly Tompkins and Helen Kay as Jim and Harry’s wives Vera and Rita.

The production is using local brass bands from each town or city where they perform, and for their run at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, the band was Jackfield Brass Band from Ironbridge.  They were excellent, and the music which featured in the show was by turns rousing and moving, providing the perfect ‘soundtrack’ for a play that had lots of belly laughs, but which was also telling a very upsetting and true story of shattered lives and broken dreams.

This excellent production is still touring – if you get the chance, go see it!

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