Dir. Graham McLaren, Citizens, 14th-18th October
For the 30th anniversary of the 1984 miners strike, what better play to revive than Joe Corrie’s 1926 In Time O’ Strife. The play tells the story of two families within a Fife mining community struggling to keep going under the strain of a seven month lock out. Originally the play was performed to raise money for local soup kitchens, its message reflecting the reason for its existence.
As the audience enter In Time O’ Strife, the cast and band are already on stage, playing music, singing and dancing. It’s an inviting environment that directly encourages the audience to join and and sing along. In its aim to recreate the feeling of social halls and community centres, the play has succeeded even before it has properly begun.
The performances are all fantastic, but the stand out feature of this production has to be the combination of the music and Imogene Knight’s visceral choreography. Throughout the production, actors call out to the band to play us something to lift the mood, and they answer with upbeat, happy folk songs while the cast let loose and dance with what can only be seen as reckless, youthful joy and abandon.
Contrast this with the darker numbers where the human body, beaten and downtrodden, reflects the struggle of the miners, the fight between holding out and starving while standing for what you believe in, or going back to work, to find the money to escape this life and all its suffering. The tracking of emotion within this play is done beautifully, from hope, happiness and young love, to the bleak suffering at the heart of the strike and its devastating consequences.
Written in the 20s, commemorating the 80s and produced in 2014, In Time O’ Strife reminds us that class struggle is as prevalent as ever and it shows us why we fight against it time and time again, even when it seems futile. This production from NTS is nothing short of fiercely powerful.
[Emma Ainley-Walker – @emaw23]