The Pitman Painters @ Arts Theatre, Adelaide 17/8/2022

I was lucky to see the preview of the wonderful play The Pitmen Painters last night. It is the latest production by the Therry Society. I have seen many plays by the society over the years and like all the others it was excellent with a professional cast and very well produced.

The Pitmen Painters is a 2007 play by Lee Hall who also wrote the movie and musical Billy Elliot. The play tells the true story of the Ashington Group who were English miners who, despite their lack of formal artistic training, became celebrated artists who had their own exhibitions. It was a very thoughtful story which interweaved the question of what art is and cast a light on the class struggles of the day. I found this story about this real-life group to be fascinating and looked it up on the internet as soon as I got home.

I really liked the way any art that was being discussed was projected on a screen behind the actors so we could see what they were talking about. The art displayed to us was the actual paintings by the Ashington Group which reflected the lives they were living in their own eyes. The play tells us how important art can be in our lives and demonstrates that we all have the potential to achieve our goals and dreams. As someone who has travelled the world to go to Art Galleries, I was very touched when in the play the miners visit the Tate gallery in London for the first time.

Geoff Britain directed the play and is one of Adelaide’s best directors. I thoroughly enjoyed his direction of both “Vincent in Brixton” and “Crimes of the Heart” by Geoff in recent years. Chris Leech as the teacher was very effective and to me seemed very real. Jack Robins played Oliver Kilbourn and to me, his poignant portrayal of the character was the heart of the play. Andrew Horwood played Harry Wilson, the wonderful socialist character. Andrew had actually worked in a coal mining town many years ago and thus felt a special connection with the miners presented here. I found all the actors to be great and found their UK accents to be very effective.

I highly recommend this play which is playing until Saturday 27th of August at the Arts Theatre. Bookings can be made here:

Review By Richard De Pizzol

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