The Wind Road Boys
By Robert Nichols
Wednesday 12 Jun 2013 22:23:00
Browse all Drama articles

An inspirational musical by Enter CIC swept the audience off its feet last night at the Gala Theatre, Durham and earned a standing ovation. The large cast included a village school worth of aspiring young local talent that truly achieved and reached the heights bringing this stirring story to life.

The plot and music written by Teessider Paul Flynn told the human story as set down in his memoires by the last worker standing from a former Durham colliery. The pit now an unloved and neglected wasteland in a Category D long abandoned village is the target for a developer, ancestor of the former pit village. But should the former hub of a now largely forgotten community be the home to a faceless superstore? Or does the now desolate landscape still have a role to play in binding peoples lives together and injecting some spirit and pride for the future?

There are some wonderful characterful performances in the musical. Glen Joseph plays the role of the old miner, George Turner, in such a sympathetic and powerful way. George returns like a ghost from Christmas past to paint his story in the dreams of the young pretender to the superstore throne, James Waltham. Rob Eyles is extremely convincing as that prodigal son, James Waltham, out to impress his overbearing father but fighting hard to resist the attentions and the campaigning of former beau Helen Highwater, superbly played by Laurie Scarth. Look out for Tom Whally in future, he made a marvellously conniving father and grandfather Mr Waltham as well as a cane wielding schoolmaster straight out of the Dandy or Beano. You'll go a long way to view a better bedraggled social club MC and knocker upper than Teesside's own Ian Richardson.

At the centre of the tale are The Wind Road Boys who went down the pit at a tender age tasked with opening and closing doors to ventilate the pit. They worked long 12 hour shifts, deep underground in very difficult conditions, a hard apprenticeship to the colliery that became their life and so often death.

This is a musical that does not pull any punches about the pain and loss that came with winning King Coal. There is drama and terrible sadness. Yet it also paints a vivid picture of a strong community bound together in adversity but also with a real spirit, where everyone helped out their “marrer.” There is always a light shining at the end of the pit shaft.

Superbly directed and choreographed, The Wind Road Boys made for a brilliant night's entertainment but ultimately with an overarching energy of positivity. By the end of the show the cast and the audience alike could feel that bit more proud of the achievements of our ancestors and appreciate the community they dug and built by hand.

A core aim of the Enter project is to breathe life, heart, hope and aspiration into kids in the community and allow their talents to ripen. The Wind Road Boys scores highly on all those life criteria.

There was a heartfelt standing ovation at the end, following which I heard person after person exclaiming how wonderful the show had been.


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