Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Undermined, reviewed by The Scotsman’s David Pollock.
Although unrelated, this perceptive and well-performed monologue from actor Danny Mellor forms a fine companion piece to the excellent The Beanfield, showing at the Space at Jury’s Inn throughout August. While The Beanfield documents alleged police brutality during the operation to break up a free party at Stonehenge in 1985, Undermined tackles the same subject, which flowed from the stand-off around the UK miners’ strike in the same era.
For Dale, matey twang in his bass-heavy Yorkshire accent and heavy boots thumping on the stage when he stands, the clash with police at South Yorkshire’s Orgreave colliery in 1984 was only one trauma. He was lucky enough to get away unharmed, his terror that his blood had been spilled dulled by the realisation that the redness dripping from him had been caused by a paintbomb. Yet the visceral sense of threat is made real in Mellor’s retelling, and when he returns home he is appalled by news reports; these weren’t clashes, he says, in as much as a clash should have two aggressor sides involved.
Mellor’s grandad was a miner, and he presents a strongly-performed show with a sense of thoroughness and accuracy here, a piece which is partisan but passionate. The Orgreave clash is just one aspect of a chosen way of life for those striking miners which, we see, brought poverty, resentment – the familiar story of picketers versus scabs is given a new and very personal dimension – and a sense of strongly bonded community amidst the hardship and unpredictability. There’s sadness in this, knowing that this community will go on to crumble around Dale and his family and friends, but also a well-evoked pride in his doing all he can to live on his feet in the moment.
Greenside @ Royal Terrace (Venue 231) until 29 August
Published in The Scotsman on 24 August 2015
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