Monday, May 14, 2012

Close the Coalhouse Door - A Review

So, I promised you more about my theatre visit on Saturday...I went to see 'Close the Coalhouse Door' at Richmond Theatre.  It's currently on tour as a collaboration between Northern Stage and Live Theatre.  It started it's life in Newcastle, and although I'm a Geordie girl, sadly I couldn't make it up home to see it, so had to watch it with a lot of other fellow Geordie exiles down south.  I inadvertently booked matinee tickets for Saturday and was worried that there would be hardly anybody in the theatre - I mean, a play about the pits and miners, in Richmond, one of the richest suburbs in London?  Mmmmn.  I was wrong.  The theatre was practically full - and lively!  One deep voiced Geordie voicing his opinions and laughter freely throughout!! 
Written by Alan Plater, music and songs by Alex Glasgow and based on the books of Sid Chaplin, I have more reason than most to reiterate the lines from the play "it might be history to some people, to us it's family, pet" as Sid was my Grandad, a writer and also a miner.  Sid wrote about the things that meant the most to him - family, the mines, people's livelihoods and politics and Close the Coalhouse Door manages to visit all of these as it meanders it's way through the history of the pits as seen through the eyes of a couple celebrating their golden wedding.  Lee Hall (of Pitman Painters fame)has brought it up to date, as now of course, there are no working pits in the north-east, and I for one thought he did a great job.  As I watched and listened I became again, the 7-year-old who watched it for the first time with my Grandad and Grandma beside me.  I was filled with great pride, not only for the artistic endeavours of the people involved, but also for the grit and determination of the Geordie stock, of which I am proud to be part of.

If you'd like to catch this play - and I recommend it wholeheartedly - then it's off to Salford, Huddersfield, Guildford, Durham, Oxford and York.  Here's a taster of what to expect - the only thing missing is the brass band that took part in the original back in 1968.

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