Review: Shafted, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

John Godber and Jane Thornton in Shafted
John Godber and Jane Thornton in Shafted

During the after show question and answer session of Shafted, John Godber asked the audience if they had seen any signs of the vaunted Northern Powerhouse. I said nothing, but my immediate thought was that there may not be energy in the economy, but there certainly is artistically, and he is one of our dynamos.

This is a typically polemical piece from the Wakefield-based, writer and actor.

The first half unpacks the aftermath of the miners’ strike and its effect on Harry and Dot. It is told in a series of tableaux that run up to 1995. Ingeniously, fictive time then reverses with Act 2 opening in 2014 and running backwards to meet with the end of Act 1.

The subject of Shafted is the 1984 miners’ strike, but the themes are love and endurance. This may sound like familiar ground from the likes of Billy Elliott and Brassed Off, but we have not been invited to consider the effects on people over time. How did they cope with such devastating upheavals 30 years on?

John Godber’s Harry gives us a curmudgeonly miner, 30 years down the pit, who refuses to compromise his view of what constitutes honourable action and personal integrity.

Dot is better adapted to the new reality of post 1984 pit closures. In her unarticulated way, she sees Harry through, only for roles to be reversed with Harry caring for her in old age.

Definitely worth a visit. Shafted runs at the Stephen Joseph Theatre until Saturday. Performances are Tuesday April 19 and Wednesday April 20 at 7.30pm; Thursday April 21 at 1.30pm and 7pm; Friday April 22 at 7.30pm and Saturday April at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.