REVIEW: Brassed Off at Mansfield’s Palace Theatre

Mansfield Palace Theatre is performing Brassed Off. Pictured is cast and band during dress rehersal.
Mansfield Palace Theatre is performing Brassed Off. Pictured is cast and band during dress rehersal.
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It is perhaps difficult for the younger generation to appreciate what impact the closure of the pits had on areas such as Mansfield and Ashfield.

But with the death of Margaret Thatcher earlier this year, the raw emotion, along with the sense of pride, came to the fore once again.

These themes are explored in Brassed Off, which made a welcome return to Mansfield’s Palace Theatre last night.

Directed by Christopher Neil and performed by members of Mansfield Palace Community Theatre, the play tells the story of a mining community who face the prospect of losing the colliery which employs most of the men in the area - and this also threatens the future of the brass band, led by the inspirational Danny (played by Malcolm Seymour).

Although set in Grimley, a fictional town in Yorkshire, there was a real feeling that this was a community much closer to home, not least because the accents were more Nottinghamshire than Yorkshire.

All aspects of the play were brilliantly executed and the cast used the theatre to great effect; when the band performs in the national finals, the other cast members join us in the audience making us feel like we were really there.

The actors captured life in this close-knit community and we see the friendships and the bawdy humour as well as the anger and heartache which the pit closures left behind.

There is no happy or neat ending, although the strength of characters gives us some cause for optimism.

Newstead Brass provided the music for this production and were absolutely superb, moving from the stirring, upbeat numbers to more mournful pieces.

The cast received rapturous applause from the audience before the band leader got us all up on our feet for an enthusiastic sing-a-long of Land of Hope and Glory.

If you are looking for something to do this weekend, I would urge you to go and see it.

Brassed Off is on until Saturday. For details on shows at the Palace visit www.mansfield.gov.uk/palacetheatre.

Review by Catherine Allen