Boys From the Blackstuff: Past period that has insidious echoes at the moment | Theatre | Entertainment | EUROtoday

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Alan Bleasdale’s 1982 tv sequence captured the temper of Britain like few dramas earlier than or since.

Unemployment has not often been explored with such maudlin wit and the characters etched themselves into the nationwide consciousness, significantly Michael Angelis’ good-hearted Chrissie and Yosser ‘Gizza job’ Hughes immortalised by the late, nice Bernard Hill.

James Graham’s stage adaptation can not hope to have fairly the identical impact because the 5 episode TV sequence however Bleasdale’s cri de coeur resonates strongly throughout 4 a long time.

On an industrial set of rusting iron girders and walkways with a filmed background of the Liverpool docks, 5 former tarmac-layers negotiate their manner via the Dept of Unemployment interrogations whereas risking lack of advantages by working off the books. Dodging spies or ‘sniffers’ – represented right here by ghastly little jobsworth Moss (Jamie Peacock)  – the lads and their households battle for survival.

Kate Wasserberg’s manufacturing is ripe with motion and character, flowing effortlessly from one brief scene to the following and punctuated by snatches of labor songs like sea shanties.

When tragedy strikes the tone turns into extra muted and far of the second half is dominated by a sequence of dialogues between the ageing labourer and bereaved father George (Philip Whitchurch) and the youthful males.

Yosser’s aggressive behaviour barely disguises his desperation and Barry Sloane conveys his stomach-churning worry of loss – spouse, children, identification – beautifully.

His mantra “I could do that” shifts from humorous to pathetic to unbearably unhappy and the image of his unseen kids offers a theatrical dividend like a kick to the guts.

Graham  often unleashes a hectoring political diatribe however his grasp of theatrical rhythm is as sturdy as ever as drama jostles with humour.

The forged is faultless, together with Nathan McMullen, George Caple, Aron Julius and Lauren O’Neil as Angie – whose despairing scene on her incapacity to feed her kids hits onerous. A well timed reminder of a previous period that has insidious echoes at the moment.