The Octagon Theatre, Bolton
Until Saturday, June 14

WHEN a film was released in 1996 about the woes of the members of a colliery brass band facing the closure of their pit, it struck a chord with many.

And theatregoers from Bolton and beyond were clearly keen to enjoy the humour and heart of the story on stage as all tickets for Brassed Off, at the Octagon Theatre, were snapped up before opening night.

Funny, warm, down-to-earth and with exceptionally played music by Wingates Band on Friday evening’s press night, the play is a celebration of music and the potential of human spirit to overcome the odds.

Set in 1992, the miners are on strike, the colliery is about to close and Danny’s hopes of winning the national brass band competition at the Albert Hall seem like a distant dream.

But the arrival of flugelhorn-playing Gloria brings romance, hope and controversy to a Yorkshire brass band on the brink of collapse.

John McArdle, whose many television roles include playing Billy Corkhill in Brookside, is fantastic as the band’s passionate conductor, rousing the audience members as well as the play’s characters.

Andrew Dunn, who played Tony in sitcom Dinnerladies, wonderfully potrays Danny’s son, Phil, who finds himself struggling with the pressures of working in the colliery and the threat of its closure.

There is a particularly powerful scene which brings home the country’s depression, the plight of the miners and the struggle of some to retain hope. 

Clara Darcy is charming as Gloria, who has been sent to her old hometown of Grimley to determine the profitability of the pit for the management of British Coal.

Luke Adamson plays the part of young narrator Shane, a character much younger than his years, with convincing wide-eyed charm, capturing the innocence of youth.

There are strong performances from the entire 10-strong cast in the production which also gives local youngsters the chance to tread the boards as Melody and Craig - Lily Newns and Adam Tyerman on Friday, with the pairings of Jasmine de Goede and James Scowcroft and Elsie Difalco and Logan Ernill on other nights.

Based on Paul Allen’s adaptation of the screenplay by Mark Herman, the play has been revived by the Octagon, York Theatre Royal and the Touring Consortium Theatre Company to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the 1984 miners’ strike.

With clever set design, use of the space and delightful live music, it is sure to be a treat for those with tickets.