Review: Pride of the Shore

Review: Pride of the Shore

Gary Mitchell’s new community play, Pride of the Shore which is premiering at The MAC until Sunday, is a kind of morality play. Big in cast and heart, it explores how a community may over generations become fragmented, and what may be done to repair it. Also a family, here the Evans with the granda played to perfection by Ivan Little in an f-ing and blinding performance reminiscent of Jim in The Royle Family. He and his longsuffering wife, Elizabeth, acted with spirit by Marie Jones in a long awaited return to the stage, have a divided tribe and Rocco, the old guy in the armchair, relives the glory days of the flute band which he sees as a redemptive force.

In this ultimately upbeat drama, he isn’t wrong. We heard and saw the eponymous Pride of the Shore flute band play rousingly across the stage and you could hear the passion the old guy meant and wanted back. Ollie (excellent Matt Forsythe) is the son who becomes band chair, but his disputes with sister Gillian, working in suicide prevention, threatens to destabilise everything. There was one brilliant , acrimonious family Sunday lunch while perfectly made the point. Antoinette Morelli’s moving speech about her family turning against her was a moving highlight of the evening.

The plot concerns Shammy who has lost his wife to suicide, can’t remember in his cups that she is gone, and has his own moment of horror atop the cliff, actually a point halfway up the stalls. Community actor Rabbie Best gave a great turn as this troubled guy, shambling from one disaster to another and gaining our sympathy, even when linking up with the evil drug dealer Bumper (also talented Joe McClean), If the ending wasn;t all that plausible, never mind, the evening was an enjoyable experience. Eimear Bailie was vastly amusing as the selfish granddaughter Rose and scenes with her and her lumpish brother who converted to the band, Larry (Robert Hamilton) were well done under Matthew McElhinney’s direction.

Playwright Gary Mitchell, who demonstrates a real talent for humour, describes the play as a juggernaut. At times, it’s a juggernaut that’s slightly out of control with a sense of slight under rehearsal, but this feel good play, slightly in the mould of Billy Elliott or The Full Monty, won over the audience. Even if the pat ending didn’t entirely convince, the sound of the Pride of the Shore leading us almost out, certainly did.


Jane Hardy

Pride of the Shore continues at The MAC until June 23.

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