REVIEW: The Stirrings, University Drama Studio

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SUDS’s latest offering is based on the violent union backlashes in Sheffield in the 1860s.

Crimes such as technological advancement or undercutting an agreed selling price for a product would be met with punishment from head honcho William Broadhead.

Adam Booth plays Broadhead in the style of a brooding Mafia boss. There is plenty of swagger on the outside but a slowly declining inner confidence. Chief henchman Samuel Crookes is played well by Tim Mitchell. He appears at times menacing and cocky and at others breathlessly bewildered.

Although the main premise of the tale is grim, there is plenty of fun to be had here.

A couple of great slapstick scenes feature workmen, including Jonathan Jones and Peter Geary digging a hole whilst a rival oil company promptly fills it in. Following some fisticuffs they are later seen actually helping each other with the identical task.

There are some great folk tunes accompanied by a live band with the cast wearing some terrific period costume.

We are also reminded how lucky we are living today. Men would work until their 30s and would probably die by 40, women didn’t have the vote and Britain had the death penalty.

There are some likeable cameos. A cartoonish, contorted Ian Gledhill is Mr Flintoff, assistant councillor. Mark Powell is optimistic Councillor Isaac Ironside, opposite Mr Flintoff. Powell also plays a riveting courtroom judge in a dramatic finale and an exuberant toastmaster. Melvyn Osborne is Sheffield Telegraph hack William Leng, who wants justice for the outrages.