If ever there was a must-see performance to get you away from watching Spooks on the telly on a Wednesday night, then this was it.
Road is a revival of Jim Cartwright’s play that was first produced in 1986, a gritty reaction to the quashing of the miners’ strike, unemployment and poverty.
At the same time it is a celebration of life in the raw and the hope for something better – all delivered in a rich Anglo-Saxon vernacular enlivened by gutsy humour and flashes of pure poetry.
It ranges in turn from laugh-out-loud humour to pure pathos.
This was a stunning production on the part of an amateur company and a triumph for Alex Needham whose first outing as director this was.
The play takes place in one Lancashire street – here represented on a stark set by a bit of scaffolding and the occasional prop.
No more is necessary as the eclectic range of characters paraded before us, introduced by the narrator Scullery (well played by Steve Leanaghan), are quite colourful enough.
There are girls dolling up to go out on the pull, a former skinhead who has found salvation in the Dharma, and two lads, Eddie and Brink whose route to sanity lies in getting drunk and letting rip to the sounds of Otis Redding.
From partying to ranting against the lack of jobs, a drunken husband or the sheer grinding awfulness of poverty, it is all enacted with a richness of language and at an exhilarating pace that barely faltered on the opening night.
Many of the cast doubled – or even trebled – up on their roles, with Tim Thornton brilliant variously as the nutter Skin Lad, a mad DJ and a soldier who is sick in his chips.
Paul Dyson is moving as Jerry, an ex-RAF chap who can’t get away from his past, and Gina Cottey (Carol), Amy Hughes (Lane and Louise) evidently have huge fun playing sassy girls looking for something a bit better in life.
Carolyn McCormac, who first appears as defeated, drunken mum Brenda, then transforms superbly and almost unrecognisably into the sassy, mouthy Marion shouting after her errant husband.
This production rocks – and that includes the interval when you get the chance to relive your 80s dancing days on the stage – go hide outside if of a nervous disposition.
It deserved a bigger audience than the half-full house it had on Wednesday.