THE STORY of Brassed Off is one that should resonate with people of all ages.
It’s a tale of community spirit, survival, friendship and fighting on in the face of adversity.
Parents struggling to feed their kids, a community torn apart by redundancy and the world around them changing, and enduring friendships - these are the things that underlie Brassed Off and mean as much today as they ever did. While all this is going on, the Grimley Colliery Band, led by the wise old Danny (played brilliantly by Paul Wood), plays on, eventually winning a place in the final of a national competition.
In Danny’s rousing and heart-wrenching closing speech, one thing becomes clear - when the last pit is closed and all the money is gone, there’s only one thing left that matters - the people you love.
The Whitwell Player and Whitwell Brass Band present this message with dazzling aplmob.
The band are on top form and the cast is incredible.
Ryan Stacey plays Phil as a struggling father on the brink with moving authenticity, and Holly Gladwin does a brilliant job of playing the naive Shaz.
At the centre of the story are newly weds Garry and Lauren Greenlaugh - playing Brassed Off’s young lovers Andy and Gloria.
There’s almost a sudden rush for oxygen masks when the lovely Lauren appears in a nightie during a bed scene that leaves many of the older theatre-goers slightly breathless - but the real-life chemistry between Lauren and Garry seeps into their portrayal of Andy and Gloria and the results are simply electric.
The true stars of the show however, are Joe Mason as Harry and Gary Williams as Jim.
Together, they make the perfect foul-mouthed, comedy double-act.
Most of the highlights of the play come when these two appear on stage together, rebounding off one another’s relentless banter until the Acorn is drowned out in the sound of belly-laughs.
I dare say that if there were to be a production starring these two alone, all present tonight would certainly flock to see it. Harry and Jim are loud, proud and Yorkshire through and through - but don’t let their boisterous nature fool you.
For every F-word, smutty joke and drunken moment, there’s also a moment of tenderness and heartache. The way they balance comic relief with Northern wisdom and truly touching moments of sentimentality is a true testament to their impeccable skills as actors.
The show was only on for three nights, and those who missed out should feel a very deep loss.
What the talented folk of Whitwell pulled off this evening was a riveting, flawless and authentic must-see for all.
By Andrew Trendell