A historic mining village in the North East is under threat when Superco want to open an EnormaStore on land that has been inherited from an old miner, George. In a bid to save the fate of the community, Superco's representative is taken on a journey to discover what life was like during the town's mining heritage. George was one of the last 'Wind Road Boys', young children who worked underground in the pits to prevent the dangerous build-up of gases. The show is a homage and celebration of the role the area's previous generations played in the industrial revolution of the whole country.
An hour of the show has been cut for this Fringe production and I wonder if some of the variety has been lost by this adaptation.
The Wind Road Boys started as a community project with a solid social and historical purpose: to bring young people without access to the arts into theatre and educate them on the history of where they lived. As such, the cast of thirty-two is made up of young people and others from the community, led by four professional actors who are involved in the project. They form a tight, bright and very well rehearsed ensemble, with mostly committed performances, although there is a range of abilities across the cast. The choreography is simple but well executed; overall the production is very slick. Tom Whalley is a very strong all-rounder and led the cast excellently as George. Matt Mills, as a conspicuously showbiz narrator, was brilliant, even if I'm not sure of the character's purpose in the story at all times. Charlie Martin has a beautiful voice and Francesca Verity gives a particularly enjoyable and characterful performance.
Pop ballads make up the majority of the songs, which don't really relate to the context of the show and perhaps more traditional sounding music would have worked better. There are many invigorating anthems that build into something epic-sounding but they sound quite similar and the rousing effect of them is lessened by the repetition. An hour of the show has been cut for this Fringe production and I wonder if some of the variety has been lost by this adaptation.
This is a tight production by a company who know what they're doing and with some standout performances. I have no doubt that, as an arena show in the area it is based and with an audience who could attach and relate to the narrative, this would be a triumph of a musical. It doesn't work as well in Edinburgh but this company should be very proud of its production.