The perfect Pitman Painters
Every now and again comes along an unassuming play that completely blows me away and Pitmen Painters is one them.
OK so I'm a little late to the party, it is been garnering five star reviews all over the place since its debut in Newcastle in 2007, subsequent transfer to the National, UK tour and Broadway run but better late than never.
Written by Lee Hall and inspired by the William Feaver book, it is about a group of North East pit workers in 1930/40s whom the Workers Education Association organises art appreciation classes.
Posh art prof Robert Lyon (Ian Kelly) travels up from Durham to take the class once a week but it quickly turns into a painting class with the pitmen proving to have hidden talents that quickly get noticed by the art world glitterati.
If you take the warmth and fun of say The Full Monty or Billy Elliot, if that isn't too cliched, but add art appreciation, social commentary and history you get somewhere close to what Pitmen Painters is like as a play.
It is effectly and simply staged, as a painting is displayed on an easel a larger image is projected on screens over the actors heads for all to see. The only furniture is simple, wooden folded chairs that are moved into various configurations depending on the location of the scene. There is even a bit of art in action, although not done with quite as much drama and intensity as the painting scene in Red at the Donmar last year. The acting is also faultless.
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