Steptoe and Son
Northern Stage 15/3/12
Adapted & Directed by Emma Rice
A Co-production between Kneehigh and West Yorkshire Playhouse
Ray Galton & Alan Simpson’s scripts have been adapted for the stage to create a loving play about a father and his son who both fought in different world wars. The pair wrote 8 tv series over 12 years and 5 radio series which are firmly etched in British entertainment history. What makes this production work, though, is that they have not tried to recreate the television programmes. Albert (Mike Shepherd) is still a dirty old man who will feign death when Harold (Dean Nolan) has another plan to fly the family nest. There is no attempt to play the role as Wilfrid Brambell would have done.
We find the useful addition of a female role played by Kirsty Woodward, who alternates between being the unseen guardian angel trying to point out what could have been and the female companions in a couple of the stories. Along with a choice of music from Cliff Richard’s “The Young Ones”, Roy Orbison’s “It’s Over” to Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds” we are given a vehicle to segue one story into another.
The set was designed by the Northern Stage legend Neil Murray and involved a movable cart which could also double as a house and a rocking horse that needed feeding. The clever design help the actors deliver the physical interactive theatre that Kneehigh are famous for.
The show therefore gives us 4 stories which explore the relationships between a father and his son. It is an opportunity to explore the chemistry that builds up in close family relationships. At time the humour is dark but it is always suggested that this is due to the strong bond between the title characters. The play has got its funny moments and some show pieces – from juggling to doing the splits. The occasional interaction when the audience reacted to an event was a nice touch.
The play made for a pleasant evenings entertainment and it brings a fresh interpretation of a familiar situation.
The play continues at the Northern Stage until the 16th March and then continues its tour:
Tue 19 March 2013 - Sat 06 April 2013 Lyric, Hammersmith
Tue 09 April 2013 - Sat 13 April 2013 Sherman Cymru
Director & Adaptor Emma Rice
Set & Costume Designer Neil Murray
Lighting Designer Malcolm Rippeth
Score & Sound Designer Simon Baker
Projection Designer Mic Pool
Choreographer Etta Murfitt
Casting Director Sam Jones
Assistant Director Simon Harvey
Producer Paul Crewes
Stage Manager for Spring Tour Ali Gray
Kneehigh website: http://www.kneehigh.co.uk/show/steptoe_and_son_tour.php
Teachers resource Pack: http://www.northernstage.co.uk/upload/Spring%202013/Steptoe%20and%20Son/steptoe_resource_pack.pdf
Northern Stage Website: http://www.northernstage.co.uk/whats-on/steptoe-and-son