Brassed Off Review

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Clara Darcy (Gloria), Martin Barrass (Danny) and the TCTC Group Band in Brassed Off at New Vic Theatre. Image by Mark Douet.

Brassed Off at the New Vic brings something special to the round – not just in the superb sound of a live brass band – but also the dynamic performances delivered by a convincing cast.

Set in 1994 and centred on the troubles of a Yorkshire mining community whose pit is on the brink of closure, it is the colliery brass band which is helping the likes of Danny and son Phil, along with Jim, Harry and Andy hang on to some hope.

The band however is not without its woes, and you can’t help but feel for hard working Phil whose trombone is on the brink of breaking every time he tries to play.

When Gloria steps into the rehearsal room and demonstrates her musical talents, it soon becomes apparent her and Andy were school sweethearts back in the day and it isn’t long before their romance is reignited. Gloria’s addition to the band is eventually welcomed by the other members after ex-miner Danny – who is also the Grimley bands faithful conductor – invites her to join them following a staggering performance.

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William Fox (Phil) and Susie Emmett (Sandra) in Brassed Off at New Vic Theatre.
Image by Mark Douet.

It is Phil’s wife Sandra, played by the utterly believable Susie Emmett, who has less compassion for the musical community. Sandra loves her husband and four young children dearly, but the adverse circumstances surrounding their family home is too much to bear and eventually Phil is left all alone as the closure of the pit is upon the miners.

There’s nothing more which can be done despite the determination and support of the wives standing on the picket line outside – a picket line which resonates quite profoundly to the audience, tensions rise and the band comes to a halt.

It’s not until Gloria helps to step in when a spark is reborn amongst a community in disarray, and it’s the magic of the music which brings hope back to the lives so many can relate to.

Martin Barrass plays conflicted Danny beautifully as he faces his own problems before his beloved Grimley band perform on the biggest stage they could ever imagine at the Royal Albert Hall in London and a star performance is duly rewarded.

This is without doubt a heartwarming play with drama and comedy intertwined amongst rousing brass band sounds. A super talented cast along with Crewe’s TCTC Group Champion Brass Band all work to deliver a superb production directed by Conrad Nelson in the round.

**Brassed Off is at the New Vic until Saturday 22 June. More information here.