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Armchair Reviewers - Round up of Week 12 (The Hired Man)

Hello, it’s time for another week of Armchair Reviewers! This week’s production was the 2019 musical revival of The Hired Man, courtesy of the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, Hull Truck Theatre and the Oldham Coliseum Theatre.

The Hired Man begins in 1898 and tells a turn-of-the-century tale of working class hardship in rural Cumbria. Through the title character John and his wife Emily, a cast of eleven actor-musicians transport the audience through two decades of love, marriage, children, changing fortunes, miner’s unions and WW1.

Let’s see what our reviewers had to say…

'This is a very moving musical with memorable characters (each with his or her own struggle) and infectious songs that stayed with me. Loved that the cast played their own instruments while singing and moving around the stage; the cello became a dog at one point! Loved the staging too. It comprised a bare revolving floor and simple table and chair which transformed convincingly from hiring fair to run-down cottage to coalmine to a WW1 battlefield.' – Sally via email

I still can’t get the title song out of my head! Here’s what another reviewer had to say…

'The Hired Man streamed performance was an absolute pleasure to watch. Given the current circumstances of our own lives, the story of John amd Emily is a reminder of hard graft, work and effort to build a new life in difficult times. From the offset, the choral music and onstage instruments combined to set the entire tone of the way of life the for folk that reside in Cumbria 1898. One of the most humbling opening numbers I have seen in years, I instantly connected to Melvyn Bragg and Howard Goodall’s world. A performance that stuck out in my memory was that of Lauryn Redding; her use of storytelling made the audience relate and understand each decision and the strife Emily went through. I thought the character changes amongst the cast were simple and effective. It did not need any more than the actor’s skill to portray a different ‘voice’. Bar one moment towards to climax of the story, the staging was again simple to understand and enhanced the story beautifully. My favourite moment? When an ensemble character used his cello as a dog!
- Jamie via email

As always, thank you so much for all of your contributions to this week’s reviewers. For next week, we’ll be looking at the NT Live at Home streaming of The Bridge Theatre's A Midsummer Night's Dream. It is available via YouTube from 7pm on Thursday 25 June.

As always make sure to share your thoughts, either via social media or by e-mailing [email protected]

Take Care, Reviewers!

Rebecca Smith

Early Years and Education Officer