Review: Gripping drama goes from Orgeave to Brexit through South Yorkshire pit villlage women's eyes

Judy Flynn, Samantha Power and Simone Saunders star in Chicken Soup
Judy Flynn, Samantha Power and Simone Saunders star in Chicken Soup
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Chicken Soup, Crucible Studio. On until March 5.

Days after Orgreave, two friends work at a soup kitchen in a drab pit village community centre kitchen.

New volunteer Jen (Simone Saunders) is heavily pregnant and worried about a badly beaten striker husband in custody.

Amid the mundane counting up of boxes of donated cereal and tins of soup, the women talk about the horror of that day and how they are determined to carry on supporting the strike that their men are part of.

Christine (Samantha Power) turns her back on a brother who crosses the picket line, a family rift that will never be healed.

Her confrontation with sister-in-law Helen (Bliss star Jo Hartley) fizzes with tension and anger. The two performances are absolutely perfect.

The scene then moves on to 2002 and the trio are back together, this time organising a party for the Queen’s jubilee. We see the strong friendships strained as Josephine (Judy Flynn), now a Labour councillor, is moving on as Chris’s life remains defined by the strike.

Jen is torn between the two and there's a lovely, funny scene where she has to listen sympathetically to one then the other griping at their friend.

Strike baby Katie (brilliantly played by Remmie Milner) is now a mobile phone-obsessed stroppy teenager, bringing light relief with her antics.

Finally, it’s Brexit day and this time the three older women and Katie are running a food bank together, helping nurses and others facing tough times to make ends meet.

The issue of the referendum is handled with a deft touch and an unexpected visitor takes events hurtling back to 1984.

Writers Ray Castleton and Kieran Knowles and director Bryony Shanahan come together with a fantastic cast to examine strong women, friendships and the political battles that shape their lives and relationships.

This show is sharp, angry, funny, sad and at all times utterly gripping. Stunning stuff.