Brassed Off; Review

My thoughts on the New Vic's latest production; Brassed Off...

Brassed Off; Review

Brassed Off begins in a small coal-mining town in Yorkshire in 1994, a time when pits were closing and jobs were being lost. With the whole community collapsing the only thing that seems to lift the spirits is the local brass band. The story then continues as the band are determined to get into the national brass band championships. With snippets of humour, emotional scenes and fantastic live music, this play is a must-see for everyone...

One element of the play that really made this performance work (like every other performance at the New Vic) was the staging. As the New Vic is a theatre in the round, it can be incredibly difficult to stage the play in a way that everyone can see, but they managed to conquer this challenge beautifully. A raised section of the stage to the right of me created a space cut off from the rest of the stage that stayed as one setting throughout most of the performance, meaning scene changes weren't  necessary. As many scenes took place all over the auditourium, it would have been quite difficlut to know where to look throughout the play and made the scenes too busy.

However, this was made much easier with the amazing lighting throughout. With spotlights on certain spaces on the stage, it was made clear where we (as audience members) were supposed to be looking. As well as directing the audience, lighting was used throughout to create the atmosphere, with bright colours at happier scenes and dark, to no light at all at more emotional scenes. 

Another aspect that made this play so wonderfully different to any other was the live music. Throughout the play, the beautiful sound of a full brass band filled the auditorium; it was something you'd expect to see at the Royal Albert Hall. As the play revolves around the brass band, the whole ensemble seemed to play an instrument at some point in the play. This made me realise how incredibly skilled the actors must be  to become a musician while staying in character. But not only were the musicians talent showed off in this play, but also the talent of the younger actors. Children even younger than me played huge roles in this play, alongside adults and at some points outshining them(something that must take a tremendous amount of courage). 

As well as this, I particularly noticed how thoughtfully the play was written. The first half of the play was joyous and playful, at times making the whole audience laugh, but after the interval, the play took a dark turn and became a sad, sorrowful tale. In any other play this wouldn't have worked, yet the directors and producers used the music to tie these sections together, creating a seamless transition.

On a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed this production and think it is something everyone needs to see...

Header Image Credit: Brassed Off


Eleanor Dunn

Eleanor Dunn Local Reviewer

Gold Arts Award,
New Vic Theatre

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  • Ruth Watson

    On 4 June 2019, 17:22 Ruth Watson Local Reviewer commented:

    Brilliant review, Eleanor!

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