Dirty Dancing will see aisles rock­ing

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - STAGE -

show to life. That sort of re­search and de­vel­op­ment is ex­pen­sive and is paid for via fund­ing from our pock­ets. Which is why it is right and fair that we get to see the show in the re­gion.

The tour­ing pro­duc­tion ar­rived at the Brad­ford Al­ham­bra this week, open­ing the UK tour in York­shire – as One Man Two Guvnors did in Sh­effield – and will be at the theatre un­til June 14.

Adam Renton, the man­ager of the Al­ham­bra who was in­stru­men­tal in bring­ing the pro­duc­tion to Brad­ford, says: “Host­ing the exclusive York­shire pre­miere of the Na­tional Theatre’s pro­duc­tion of War Horse is won­der­ful news for our award-win­ning venue and for the district.

“The fact that the Al­ham­bra Theatre cel­e­brates 100 years in 2014, while the show is in res­i­dence, makes it even more spe­cial.” IT’S wood and leather – the ar­ti­fice isn’t even hid­den, we can see the pup­peteers – and some­how it still moves a whole au­di­ence to tears.

War Horse is one of the most mag­nif­i­cent achieve­ments of con­tem­po­rary Bri­tish theatre. Tech­ni­cally it is stag­ger­ing, but the real tri­umph of War Horse is the heart of the piece.

Watch­ing the show at the Al­ham­bra in Brad­ford, it is a re­minder of the ul­ti­mate power of theatre. Steven Spiel­berg was in­spired to turn this into a movie when he saw the show. It was not a suc­cess, mainly be­cause a movie makes fewer de­mands of the watcher than a piece of theatre. Where lit­er­al­ity failed, the com­bined imag­i­na­tions of an au­di­ence suc­ceeds.

Michael Mor­purgo’s story of Joey the horse is a beau­ti­ful novel, but the multi-faceted tale seems any­thing but ideal for adap­ta­tion for the stage. For a start, the main char­ac­ter is a horse. How can you tell the story? Well, you get ge­nius theatre mak­ers, Mar­i­anne El­liott and Tom Mor­ris, to em­ploy ev­ery the­atri­cal trick they can muster.

You then throw at it per­for­mances like that of Lee Arm­strong as Al­bert Nar­ra­cott. At the end of the play, when his mother sees a ‘man on a horse’ there is deep poignancy – we have watched this young boy be­come a man in front of our eyes.

There isn’t a mis­step in the whole pro­duc­tion, from Steven Hill­man’s Ted Nara­cott, to his long-suf­fer­ing wife Rose Nar­ra­cott, to their farm’s goose, this is one of the most com­plete pieces of theatre you will ever see.

To June 14. ALAN Ben­nett him­self in­sisted this play, the big­gest flop of his ca­reer, was in­cor­rectly ti­tled. ‘En­dure’, he sug­gested, was a more apt name.

It is a mark of the fact that Ben­nett was spot on when you con­sider that this is a bril­liantly di­rected, pow­er­fully acted pro­duc­tion and yet is vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to en­joy.

No-one is sug­gest­ing that ev­ery piece of theatre needs to be en­joy­able – some of the most pow­er­ful nights I have had in theatre have been watch­ing pieces of work that have made me feel deeply un­com­fort­able.

But there needs to some­thing in the play that is en­ter­tain­ing, or com­pelling. You can’t help but leave this pro­duc­tion feel­ing like you have been through a test of en­durance.

What’s dif­fi­cult about it is that it is truly a very imag­i­na­tively di­rected piece of work. James Brin­ing uses imag­i­na­tion and great skill to bring the story to life.

You just can’t help but won­der why.

The first in the Alan Ben­nett sea­son, En­joy tells the story of a Leeds back-to-back and the cou­ple who live in it, the space defin­ing them, and they in turn defin­ing the space. As silent ob­servers ar­rive to watch Mam and Dad live their lives, there is some­thing prophetic about the 1980 play that speaks to to­day.

It does have some typ­i­cally sparkling Ben­nett wit, but as the walls close in (iron­i­cally, by be­ing blown apart) the op­pres­sion of the piece is pal­pa­ble.

The coup de theatre at the end of this piece is spec­tac­u­lar, but it feels a long test of en­durance to get there.

To June 7. SINGALONGA Dirty Dancing is set to hit the re­gion.

From the pro­duc­ers of sim­i­lar shows Sing-a-long-a Grease and Sing a-long-a-Sound of Mu­sic – their lat­est pro­duc­tion is a brand new pro­duc­tion of the film which starred Patrick Swayze.

Set in 1963, it’s a story of col­lege boys ver­sus dancing hunks and the au­di­ence are seen as the stars, with a host for vo­cal warm-ups, and dancing down the aisles.

You can see the pro­duc­tion at St Ge­orge’s Hall, Brad­ford and for tick­ets call the Box Of­fice on 01274 432404.

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