The venue was packed.
There were 7 rows of seating, with 18 on each row, and there were a few
people seated on tables, at the back.
There was no stage. The
set was as the same level as the seating.
The set consisted of a pub bar, with pumps on it for drinks such as Castlemaine
XXXX. There was pub furniture in front
of the bar. This, like just about every
other element of the production, was re-used for more than one purpose. Not only did all the re-uses work, they enhanced
The main driver of the narrative is Andrea Dunbar, played by Emily Spowage. She plays the character of Andrea, and acts as narrator, and plays Andrea playing the character of the London producer. This part includes the most direct confrontation with the self-destructive elements of Andrea Dunbar’s character.
Whatever it is that passes for lager in this production, Emily Spowage has to drink at least 5 halves of it, some of them in quick succession.
‘Young Andrea’ is played by Lucy Hird. But ‘Young Andrea’ is not one character, in the
same way that Andrea is not just one character.
Both characters age during the narrative. This is very expertly handled, in the way the
characters are costumed and made up, in the script, and in the acting.
Laura Lindsay, Claire-Marie Seddon, and Balvinder Sopal, all
play more than one part, in the sense that they play different people, as well
as people at different stages in their lives.
Their parts are difficult, for different reasons. They have to portray characters of different
social classes, and different speech registers, with hardly any time to enact
the change. It all works.
The set is re-used, in a way that I can’t describe without
giving away the story, but it works.
And so, I got to walk 10 minutes from my house to a drama
venue (the Cluntergate Centre in Horbury), pay £5 to get in, and sit 5 feet six
inches from the dramatic action. The
dramatic action was a story which was both new and, in some ways,
familiar. I do not come from a working
class background in the Buttershaw Estate in Bradford, but I am a writer who
has come to writing via an unconventional route.
I was captivated by the play. If it were on at the same venue, tomorrow,
for the same price, I would definitely go and see it, again. But, as regards family planning, or providing
a role model for aspiring, working class writers, it is completely
useless. This is not motivational
propaganda: this is a depiction of a tortured genius. You can come from the Buttershaw Estate, and
still be a tortured genius, for all the good that will do you.