Further to my review on the opening night, the following is from guest writer James Longden, offering a fresh perspective from someone three decades younger, true to the cross generational spirit of “The Wall”.Written without reference to the original review, it is fascinating to see how The Wall unites, rather than divides, in its vision
Even though I was born over a decade after the music was first recorded, The Wall, is a production, film and album, which invades contemporary consciousness. Presented at the Tamworth Assembly Rooms, in a town that has embraced change and innovation in recent times, this updated interpretation bravely never flinched from presenting and dealing with weighty social themes. The Fired Up Theatre company was faithful to Roger Waters original creation, as tribute band Floydian Slip were faithful to their inspiration, the iconic , Pink Floyd.
Director Simon Quinn promised to “tear down the wall and break down those barriers that so often impinge upon our everyday lives and lifestyles,” bringing together performers irrespective of age and experience. He delivered on that promise. Opening the show was the Shoebox Theatre company ,with an absorbing precursor to the main event, led by Margaret Jackson, showcasing new local theatrical talent .
Although, inevitably, I was familiar with some of the songs, I had never heard the whole of the album or seen the film, so I approached the show with an open mind .It quickly became apparent that it was vital for the show to have a solid music base underpinning proceedings. Floydian Slip succeeded, in doing just that. They brought the sound of Pink Floyd, founded in 1965, back to life with authenticity and conviction. For this production they added a sixth member, an additional guitarist, and he integrated into the band seamlessly . That seamless interface was replicated between all the on stage performers, particularly Luke Comley playing “Pink”, and the band, fronted by lead vocalist Mark Peterson. Gaz Bedford skilfully adding the essential keyboard parts .
The first act was dominated by two stand out pieces, firstly the much awaited and iconic “Another Brick in the Wall” bringing, together the entire cast to showcase their talents , physically overshadowed by an oversized, towering, grotesque puppet schoolmaster set off from the stage. Secondly “Mother” ,with local mothers projected to the screen at the rear of the stage, creating a moving personal and intimate atmosphere.
The second act opened with a confident and powerful “Hey You” ,with both the band, and actors, well into their stride. Choreographer Ami Radcliffe proved to be excellent in utilising the stage in its entirety with dancers bursting out over and beyond the front apron at times, as well as making full use of their formal space.
The second half was different in style. For the first act physical theatrical dominated ,with little linear narrative, leaving much to the imagination, compared to a more story driven second half. “Comfortably Numb” quickly became the stand out number ending with rapturous applause and cheers. It was clearly the bands moment to show what they had to offer ,and they did not disappoint. The sound of Andy Ashley’s screaming guitar solo tearing up the stage was a moment to savour and remember.
This project successfully brought together a diverse community of performers in a positive arts project. It was a delight to see the inclusion of pupils from Two Gates Primary School and many others of varying ages to tackle a challenging story of adult, but socially relevant themes. On leaving I couldn’t help but recall the creative and poetic contributions of Mal Dewhirst’s poetry, dexterously layered throughout . The production, and the show, evoked in me a fresh interest in, and admiration for, a band , and show, of which I previously knew little .Why wasn’t I introduced sooner?
James Longden 6/6/12