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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA

The Oldham Coliseum’s revival of Jim Cartwright’s Road is resonant with our troubled times

By Steve Cooke

The Oldham Coliseum’s revival of Jim Cartwright’s Road, his 1980’s depiction of the impact of social and economic issues on northern working-class people, is exhilarating, challenging and resonant with our troubled times.

Gitika Butto and her production team have created a theatrical experience that draws you in from the moment you take your seat, through the interval right up to the final rapturous reception of the cast.

The actors wander around the stage, engage with members of the audience and then we are into the action. A roller-coaster of emotions reflecting the highs and lows of life as experienced by people striving and in many cases struggling to survive and find relief in whatever way they can.

During the 1980’s in working class areas of northern towns different accents and ethnicities existed and were at the rout of both conflict and harmony manifested through such as skin head bovver boys and musical movements such as Two Tone. This diversity is perfectly represented by the wonderful cast.

Director Gitika Buttoo explains. “Exploring these ‘originally’ white working-class monologues through different lenses has been super interesting. These characters make the most of their struggles and fight to survive with some light relief; be it sex, alcohol, or Otis Redding records.’”

On a personal note, she elaborates, “The National Front was rife in the 1980s and racism and prejudice still exist today – the character of Skin Lad [Shaban Dar] is someone I recognise in my own family, who have undergone serious trauma and attacks by skinheads and as a result have fought to survive.”

Richard J Fletcher as Scullery is the glue that holds the fast-moving changes from house to house to street to pub. The fabulously talented cast play up to four characters each in a way that engages you with each character, their ups and downs and strategies for coping with what life is throwing at them.

A special mention must be made of John Askew’s chillingly realistic depiction of a desperate young man’s mental breakdown.

Although as someone who remembers the 1980’s well Road is not just a vehicle for a nostalgic and rather troubled look back but an exploration of contemporary social and economic issues.

Road is at Oldham Coliseum Theatre until 1 October and I urge you to catch it if you can.

ADDRESS: Fairbottom Street, Oldham, OL1 3SW

BOX OFFICE: 0161 624 2829

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