Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The Pitman Painters - The Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

The Pitman Painters
Writer: Lee Hall
Director: Max Roberts
Reviewer: Sarah Lyth

What is it that gives your life meaning?

The Lyceum is currently playing host to The Pitmen Painters, a deeply colourful and moving exploration of the struggles of life, passion and human expression in the community of Ashington, Northumberland. The very meaning of life itself is teased out and pondered upon as the pitmen discover the power of themselves as individuals and of their community through art, the pursuit of beauty and the reality of work down the pit.

The scene is set in the Workers Educational Association class. The deeper journey for all of the characters begins when Robert Lyon arrives to catapult the members into a personal journey of discovery into the worlds of themselves and their community through art. It appears that a seemingly unthreatening search for facts can often lead to the most transforming and incredible places!

The space is used with great grace and flow, the simplicity of the space allowing the light to emphasise the atmosphere of the scenes as they melt into one another. As pieces of art were created, experienced and held up to observe, they were delicately added to the set so that the surroundings echoed the complexity of the characters and of the issues posed wonderfully. The search for meaning always leads to avenues and vistas that are unexpected and new...

As this transformation takes place, the pitmen begin to create. They begin to relate to their lives more fully and to unearth the diamonds that lie amidst the pressure and darkness of their everyday existence as men of the pit. Hearts cry out to be fed by the beauty of a true vision of what it is to be alive . The same hearts weep in frustration at the apparent fragility and impotence of it all when they are viewed in the light of their social reality. However, the true power of this piece lies in the openness of the men themselves, raw and honest and seeking, they share their thoughts, ideas and reactions brutally, within their community and without, making the audience gasp, recoil and laugh in turn.

The Pitmen Painters is a visual feast; projectors, lights and props supporting the musings and passions of an honest and gritty group of men who, when seeking facts, actually place themselves on a journey which will transform their very selves.

Runs until Sat 7th Nov
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