The Pitmen Painters Review
So yesterday (03/04/13) I was lucky enough to get a press spot for the wonderful ‘The Pitmen Painters’ currently on it’s UK tour. It is a production created by the National Theatre in conjunction with the Live Theatre Newcastle, directed by Max Roberts and written by Lee Hall, who also wrote the stage and screen hit ‘Billy Elliot’.
My review gives a summary and some of my personal favourite parts of the show. You can check it out here on the theatre’s Facebook page where it was first published and written for:
Or you can read on to have a look-see of my article, since there is no direct link to it. I do, however, urge you all to check out Southend Theatres and the work they do outside of simply showing off the amazing shows they house. There are so many fun and exciting opportunities for all ages to get involved in theatre!
On with the review:
The Pitmen Painters
“The Pitmen Painters is a well executed, warm, funny, intellectual and inspiring tale based on the true life story of the Pitmen Painters.
The show tells us the tale of a group of pitmen who hire an art teacher (Mr. Lyon) to learn art appreciation. Yet after the north/south divide gets in the way of Mr. Lyon’s teaching, he suggests that to understand how to appreciate art, they should make the art themselves. After a few attempts at painting and critiquing each others work, opportunities arise for the humble group of pitmen, in the shape of middle class Helen Sutherland, an art collector with a lot of money to spend. But with some of the pitmen picked from the crowd with the chance to get away from the mines of Ashington and the potential to become a fine professional artist at the expense of leaving everything you know behind, what will their decisions be?
This show is a wonderfully deep show with injections of humor and a sense of art reflecting life. They push the theory that art means something different to all and it is the individual, not the crowd, that creates it. This is exactly what comes form the show. Everyone is entertained and can come away with different thoughts and questions on an array of subjects; the message is what you make it. However, the feeling the show gives is a warm one, as The Pitmen Painters explores themes of friendship, loyalty, class, imagination and bares the question, is it just those who are well off that have talent?
The performances all around were excellent but I must single out in particular that of Philip Correia as Oliver Kilbourn, Riley Jones in both his roles as Ben Nicholson and Young Lad, Louis Hilyer as Mr. Lyon and Donald McBride as Jimmy Floyd. These performances stood out strongly in amongst an impeccable ensemble cast, and whilst they did not override anyone else’s performance, they held their own magic and finesse whether it be creating comedy or tension. The set, whilst a few issues were had, was cleverly devised and worked wonderfully and the scene transitions not only gave you the feeling of time but almost as if it were a storybook, revealing each chapter in an array of sound and light.
I think the most special part of this production was the strong link it held with the real life story and the struggle of the people it was portraying. Not only through the scripting but through the use of prints of the original art work by the real life Pitmen Painters. This brought home the reality of the story but also how good things come to those willing to try and friendship can never be broken. A funny, thoughtful and inspiring production, which is good fun for a slightly older audience, i’m not sure young children would understand some of the jokes! But for fourteen and above it is an entertaining and brilliant night out.”