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Sex, Chips & Rock ‘N’ Roll!
Phil Hopkins, Arts & Travel Editor
Jim Cartwright’s award winning play, Road, crashed on to the Leeds Playhouse stage, after lying dormant for three decades, and slammed into its unsuspecting audience with all the subtlety of a Gipton kiss.

It was first performed in 1986 and I belly laughed my way through large tranches of this complex script which, at times, left you feeling empty and sorrowful for the sad lives before you.

Director Amy Leach has had a long-standing love affair with Road and her desire to stage it professionally has been in the back of her mind for years, and boy did she do it justice; absolutely brilliant. Loved it.

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As this 57 year old man laughed his way through a wholly appropriate but disgustingly blue script, it spoke of the brutal 80’s when Thatcher was at her height, the North was on its knees and a generation lay forgotten by the social do-gooders of London; the North was in crisis.

Ironically the young lady next to time, most likely a product of the cotton wool generation, sat silently, she just didn’t get the raucous, almost barbaric humour before her. Could there ever have been a time when people spoke about shagging and the F and C word were used as freely as condoms in a terrace street bin store? Absolutely, but this was an alien world to her.

However, the social divisions so beautifully articulated by the characters in Cartwright’s play – the setting might have been Leeds, Manchester or any other ‘Northern city of the 80’s – were so very real.

Joe Alessi as Scullery, is the returning sailor and narrator who threads together the patchwork quilt of lives that surround him in the ‘Road’. Lladel Bryant was the foul-mouthed black DJ Bisto – even his name was politically incorrect – whilst Darren Kuppan was the highly strung, radged ‘skin lad’ eternally spoiling for a fight to blow off steam.

Elexi Walker, Susan Twist, Tessa Parr and Jo Mousley, were, in varying degrees, the good-time girls whose weekly highlight was, at best, Friday night boozing, shagging and a bag of chips!

This is the first of four productions in the Playhouse’s temporary Pop-Up theatre as builders give the main auditorium a new lease of life.

What I loved about this production was its complete honesty. There was a feeling that the characters spoke the words they were thinking. Blokes dished out the sexism but women gave as good as they got.

There was no language for the daytime with an alternative version for the living room at night – as there is in hypocritical 2018 – because life was real all of the time and there was no opportunity for PC niceties; morality and political correctness are for the well fed.

The language was visceral and, somehow, Cartwright spoke from the heart - albeit a broken one – and captured the feelings and loneliness of a lost generation.

The cry for dignity, fairness and equality sounded long and hard from this temporary theatre, and 10 out of 10 to the tight, seamless ensemble which also included, Dan Parr and Robert Pickavance, both great performers.

I really loved this production and cannot recommend it highly enough but, be advised, the language will make your hair curl. But if you are already a bald-headed b*****d like me then it won’t matter. Sorry, did I offend you? I’m allowed, didn’t you know? After all I am a child of the 70’s and 80’s. Sincere apologies…..now P*** off and mind yer own business!

Until Saturday 8th September 2018

Sex, Chips & Rock ‘N’ Roll!, 8th September 2018, 16:45 PM