Brassed Off – Review

Apr 30 2014 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩   Not Brassed Off!

King’s Theatre Tue 29 April – Sat 3 May 2014

Fighting for a way of life, Brassed Off hits the stage fighting at the King’s Theatre, all this week.

The Brassed-Off-company-Photo-Nobby-Clark

The Brassed Off company. Photo © Nobby Clark

Marking the 30th anniversary of the miners’ strike of 1984, Damian Cruden’s production explores life for a group of miners in the fictional village of Grimley, facing the threat of pit closure in 1992.

Paul Allen’s adaptation of the 1996 movie of the same name is the story not only of adversity and dispute, but of the enduring soul of man and the cultural expression of hardship.

Some may argue that the story of a colliery brass band whose future is threatened by an impending pit closure is no longer relevant to today’s society. However, this piece reminds us of the stark effects of living in poverty and how the uncertainty that brings affects people’s lives; sadly a situation seen all over Britain today.

The message woven throughout the piece is one of hope. Hope of Grimley’s men sustaining their way of life, hope of Grimley’s rallying women as they demonstrate at the pit, hope of winning the national brass band competition, and above all, the hope of love.

The show features rousing live music from the Dalkeith and Monktonhall Brass Band; an amalgamation of the Dalkeith Burgh and Monktonhall Colliery brass bands, which came together in 1989 due to financial hardship and a lack of players. It’s a threat paralleled within the story. The skilled band complements the story well, successfully capturing and rendering the range of emotions and themes explored.

“exactly the right degree of humour and fun…”

The cast delivers a rousing, heart-warming performance. Luke Adamson leads the cast through the uncertainty and excels as Shane. By the middle of the second act it is easy to forget he is an adult actor and not the cheeky eight-year-old boy he is portraying.

John McArdle (Danny) with Andrew Dunn (Phil) Photo © Nobby Clark

John McArdle (Danny) with Andrew Dunn (Phil) Photo © Nobby Clark

John McArdle also adds a healthy injection of humour into the first act with his portrayal of the cheery, yet much feared bike-riding conductor, Danny. As the production progresses and his health deteriorates, we witness the desperation of a man clinging to his dreams. McArdle delivers a poignant performance that both brings you back to reality and inspires in equal measure.

There’s a lot of sadness in the show, but it’s coupled with exactly the right degree of humour and fun. The clear commitment to the Yorkshire setting makes it a welcome and accurate representation of the time and the cast’s strong delivery, focusing on what makes us human and what helps us cope, provides an incredibly inspirational and uplifting piece.

Brassed Off is a triumph that delivers a unique portrayal into the human spirit and the importance of community as a way to tackle poverty, hardship and adversity. This is, it seems, a message that has been lost throughout the times, but a lesson that is desperately needed in society today.

Running time 2 hrs 30 mins (including interval)
Tue 29 April – Sat 3 May 2014
Daily 7.30pm. Matinees 2.30pm: Wed, Sat.
King’s Theatre, Leven Street, Edinburgh.
Full details on the King’s Theatre website:



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