Undermined by Danny Mellor
A Danny Mellor Presents production
Upstairs @ The Western, Leicester, 16th SeptemberReview by: Paul Towers, 16 September 2016
'Mellor balances the narrative deftly'.
On 18 June 1984 the notorious miners strike came to a heady climax in a bloody confrontation between flying pickets and the police at Orgreave, South Yorkshire.
Undermined is the story of 4 friends from an unspecified South Yorkshire village caught up in the ongoing conflict that saw communities, neighbours and families fractured and ostracised for supporting the 'wrong side'.
Danny Mellor is an actor, writer and director who has compiled this fictional account from the testimonies of those who took part in the conflict. Against a soundtrack of curiously appropriate music from the 80's Mellor peoples the stage with the miners of the doomed pits with prose that is both structured and emotive. While much of the sorry tale is full of anger and bile there are welcome splashes of humour to lighten the story.
Our journey starts with the news that some pits have become uneconomical and will have to close. The natural anger at the potential decimation of old established communities and industries is directed singularly at the Government of the day. Flying pickets, riled to boiling point by the Unions, are shipped to various sites around the country to prevent the pits being worked in defiance of Union orders. The ultimate result of this action is the awful casualty strewn mess that was 'The Battle of Orgreave'.
Danny Mellor proves himself to be an accomplished actor both emotionally and physically as he switches from well defined character to well defined character as well as throwing himself around the stage as battles with police and other miners occur.
This could so easily have been a very left wing, Thatcher-bashing diatribe in blind support of the unions but Mellor balances the narrative deftly with intimations that the cause was hijacked by the Government in an effort to smash the absolute power of the Unions in much the same way that some elements in the Unions were hoping to bring down Mrs Thatcher.
Undermined is on tour until at least October.
Paul TowersPaul worked as a journalist for various magazines from 1997 to 2001 producing weekly reviews, interviews and TV listings. Since 2007 Paul has been reviewing stage shows, mainly in the Midlands but also in London. Now being settled in Leicester Paul is very happy to regularly see shows at Leicester's only pub theatre, Upstairs at The Western http://upstairsatthewestern.com