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The Awkward Squad (Tour - South Shields)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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The miner's strikes may be well and truly over but Karin Young's play reminds you that there's always something to shout about, whatever the decade.

There was times when the only thing to shout about during the 2 hour (including interval) piece was for them to get on with it; the dialogue felt cumbersome and needed to speed up somewhat to the comedic parts, which was delivered at times with the majority of assistance from Charlie Hardwick as fallen-on-hard-times daughter Sandy.

The premise of a community centre being named in honour of veteran campaigner, Lorna (Barbara Marten), brings together her family, daughters Sandy and Pam (Libby Davison) and granddaughter Sarah (Lisa McGrillis). Each has something to evaluate in their lives.

It was a little difficult to believe Marten as mother to Davison and Hardwick but gradually you accept it through the hard work of the cast in getting you there. Marten puts in an intense performance as a weary pit-wife looking for a quieter life.

The integration of social media into the sets and story gives the production an edge and a split level stage adds an extra dimension to deflect the eye.

Whilst the story is poignant in its message, it is at times a little too downbeat for what is dubbed as a comedy and could do with a few more laughs to brighten it up, which wouldn't spoil the message that today's economic climate isn't too far removed from the hardship endured in the North 30 years or so ago.


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