Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Painting the Pits in Best Possible Way

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Painting the Pits in Best Possible Way

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON BARR

IT may be called The Pitmen Painters - but it is a play that is most definitely not the pits!

That is evident even without having reviewed it - how else could you warrant it playing so many times in Newcastle in just a matter of years? This was my third time as a member of the audience at Pitmen, and I have to say I enjoyed it as much as my first.

It was the production's first time at The Journal Tyne Theatre - where it runs until Saturday - and it should go down just as well here as at the Live and Theatre Royal, where it has previously played in the city, and let's not forget the People's Theatre amateur production of it just weeks ago, again a production that went down a storm.

There have been few changes here and there over the past few years, but it remains, in essence, one of those unmissable theatre treats that only come around once in a while - although Pitmen seems to be coming around with increasing regularity!

A solid North East cast leads the way in this heartwarming and poignant story of a group of miners from the Ashington pits who took the art world by storm in the 1930s and 1940s.

At its heart also lies a wonderfully portrayed debate about art and socialism and also the gaps and prejudices between the working and upper classes.

The set is basic, with three projector screens first telling us the timeline and locations, while also giving us a largescale look at the works of these pitmenturned-painters.

It begins with the pitmen coming together for an Art appreciation class run by the Workers' Educational Association.

The men consist of play-it-by-therule-book union man George, Jimmy, an older miner who is there just to get out of the house for a while, Young Lad, who is George's unemployed nephew, communist dentist Harry and Oliver, a miner for whom life has dealt some hard blows. …

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