REVIEW: Brassed Off at Sheffield Lyceum

John McArdle in the stage version of Brassed Off. Photo: Nobby Clark.
John McArdle in the stage version of Brassed Off. Photo: Nobby Clark.
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Brassed Off, based on the 1996 movie, gives us a window into the recent history of the fight to keep the pits open and the crippling poverty that taking on the ‘management’ can create, writes Paul Tyree.

It is a stirring tale of how through all of the horrors that society can throw at you, how something as simple as music can lift the spirit and somehow give it meaning when you think all is lost.

There is a wonderful inherent dignity to this tale that comes through. Of course it had a lot to live up to when you remember the film, but in some areas this play is better than the movie. Here the female struggle to keep families going, but also to fight for the pit, shines through and gives us an understanding that the miners’ struggle was so much more than an ideological and predominantly male battle. Here, in this play all sides are represented.

There are wonderful performances by Rebecca Clay as the put upon wife of Phil, the hopeless and permantly skint clown. Also Helen Kay and Gilly Tompkins are marvellous as two women on either side of the ‘should we or shouldn’t we take the compensation’ divide.

Clara Darcy as Gloria is wonderful as the young woman trying to bridge the gap between the men and management and strikingly in a play all about men and their struggles, it is the women that shine through best in this production.

All in all, however, from the direction, the music and the performances, this is a stirring, hugely funny, touching and thoughtful tribute to the times and the men and women that loved, laughed and cried through it all. A night at the theatre you wont forget.

VIDEO: Brassed off returns to the Sheffield stage. Watch the trailer and read Paul Allen’s feature about how he adapted the film screenplay for the stage 16 years ago.

Final performances of Brassed Off at The Lyceum Theatre are Saturday, May 10, 3pm and 7.45pm.

Tickets are £15 to £28, may be subject to booking fees. Buy in person, call 0114 249 6000 or online at Also see The Star’s listings site at

BRASSED OFF IN CONVERSATION: This stage production was adapted from Mark Herman’s screenplay by Paul Allen and commissioned and directed by then Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres Deborah Paige,

You can join Paul and Deborah in conversation to discover how it made the journey from screen to stage, withe a special Brassed Off In Conversation event at the Crucible Adelphi Room on Saturday, May 10, at 1pm.

Tickets are £10 each for this exclusive fund raising event for Sheffield Theatres’ Prestige Club members, to raise money for the Lyceum Theatre Refurbishment.

*A transaction fee of £1.50 (£1 online) applies to bookings made at the Box Office. Buy in person, call 0114 249 6000 or see