In response to the 1984-1985 mine closures, husband and wife team John Godber (a Laurence Olivier Award winner) and Jane Thornton (also an established writer involved with BAFTA winning shows), bring their poignant comedy ‘Shafted!’ to the Nottingham Lakeside Arts Centre with much reflective gusto.
Set in West Yorkshire, ‘Shafted!’ portrays the lives of Dot (Thornton) and Harry (Godber) following the loss of Harry’s mining job. The beginning of the play charts Harry’s gradual decline into drug use, the couple’s marital spats and their attempts to make a living as window cleaners in the face of austerity. The year in which each scene takes place is seen projected onto the back of the stage and with loud tunes that fit the era, contemporary clothing and Dot and Harry’s strong Northern accents, the show manages to convincingly transport its audience back to the year depicted in each of its numerous and comically timed scenes. Whilst the fast-paced comedic dialogue is refreshingly brash and riddled with curse words, the painfully slow scene changes downplay the initial impression which ‘Shafted!’ produces. Indeed, as I overheard an elderly couple say during the interval, “There’s an awful lot of standing around!” However, by the second half of the performance after having witnessed Dot and Harry encounter so many obstacles (a heart attack, cancer and their son’s drug addiction to name a few), your heart really does go out to this bickering couple as they venture from Upton to Bridlington, plunging themselves headfirst into the world of the Bed and Breakfast in a brave effort to move forward with their lives despite Harry’s adamant belief that in leaving Upton they are giving in to Thatcher. It was lovely to witness a shift away from this obstinate position as Harry finally accepts what happened and throws himself into something new. We even see him painting 52 gnomes in order to decorate the garden of their Bed and Breakfast which was extremely heartfelt as well as hilarious to watch!
Whilst the low production- for there really were very minimal visual effects- and slow scene changes might put you off, I could really sympathise with Dot and Harry’s plight to establish a new life for themselves once all that they knew had been swept from under them. Therefore, this warm-hearted comedy is certainly worth a venture down to the Nottingham Lakeside Arts Centre, especially for those of you with a particular interest in the subject of Thatcher and the mine closures of 1984-1985.
‘Shafted!’ runs at the Nottingham Lakeside Arts Centre until Saturday 19th March.
For more information on the show and how to book your tickets: