Our Day Out by Willy Russell
Newcastle People's Theatre 17/9/2013
The Newcastle People’s Theatre open up their new season with a vibrant telling of the Willy Russell classic by their Youth Theatre. Director Mark Buckley has moved the production away from Russell’s native North West and moved it closer to home for the cast, and indeed audience, and yet the narrative still works. The working class kids from the school’s bottom group are not expected to pass any exams but their loyal teacher Mrs Kay, ably plaid by Anna Robinson, has not given up on them. She wants them to have a nice day out away from Newcastle. Thus she decides to organise a school trip. Moving the play to the East Coast results in the destination changing from North Wales to Whitby. The Head isn’t happy about the class going so he asks the stricter Mr Briggs (Lara Cowler) to go along too.
The play has also moved forward in time to 1983 resulting in a lot of blue eye shadow and some fabulous period outfits by the trendy young teachers Susan (Grace Dickson) and Colin (Arthur Thorpe). The young cast put on an entertaining show with sufficient gravitas when necessary. The scene in which the student Carol (Alex Carmichael) decides that she doesn’t want to go back home had enough tension in order to highlight the issue being raised. The characters Carol and Ronnie (Michael Critchlaw) also treat us to a couple of well timed songs but this is no musical production. There are funny scenes too, and the Bored Girls, Lauren Gillen and Jess Rootham had superb comic timing with their lines.
Thirty years may have passed but the problems presented still have a certain resonance today. The cast are to be commended and should have successful futures ahead of them.
This entertaining production continues until Saturday 27 th September 2013 at Newcastle’s Peoples Theatre. The tickets are £11.50 (concessions £9.50)