With Armistice Day just around the corner (11th November), it was lovely to be invited to a brand new Musical; Brass.
Commissioned by the National Youth Music Theatre in 2014 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War and written by Benjamin Till and set in Yorkshire, Brass is based on real people, the real ‘Leeds pals’ who, 2/3rds of were wiped out in the first twenty minutes of the Battle of the Somme as a result of being sent over the top in blinding sunlight.
The show focuses around a Brass band, Alf (Sam Kipling) is their conductor who tells the band he’s signed up for war, at first a couple of the members aren’t sure but, eventually, they all sign up, including Morrie (Lawrence Smith), who is clearly not of the 18 years allowed to sign up to the army.
The whole musical performance was done by just one instrument, a piano. It was nice to not be drowned in music and actually hear the singers, and hear what they were saying.
Although with 16 cast members and such a small space, I didn’t feel like there was one person who had the main role, the cast shared the space perfectly thank to Director, Sasha Regan, and they bounced off each other naturally.
With such a serious theme running through this whole performance, there were comedy moments, with songs such as ‘Billy Whistle, Barnbow lasses’ and a few others, each performed with just as high an energy as the last.
I felt that a couple of the cast were almost overdoing the Yorkshire accent but it didn’t pull focus from what was happening on stage, there was also the issue with one of the pregnant girls, Emmie (Kelsie-Rae Marshall), who, although had some great scenes, I was a bit confused with what happened in one of them.
With such delicate themes running through the show, it was hard not to shed a tear towards the end, a few people, myself included, were reaching for the tissue.
I highly recommend this show, however, I do feel you’ll need to be open minded and just go with it from the moment you sit down.
Brass is currently playing at the Union Theatre until the 24th November 2018