Close the Coalhouse Door
By Alan Plater
The Lowry, 15 May 2012
This is a joyous, vital production of Plater’s play, first performed in 1968.
What is clear now – and one senses that Alan Plater knew it even then – is that the play is an elegy, a lament for an industry that gave much to the working class movement and the nation itself, but was in decline then and is now virtually no more.
Even though union battles might be recounted still in songs and stories, their mines are shut up and mining communities desolated. Those fellows who would have been pitmen at present earn their daily bread in call-centres and megastores. If they’re lucky enough to have jobs at all, of course. That Thatcher woman, her legacy lives on.
As for the play, it invites you to traipse through a couple of centuries of mining history, what with neo-folk music and impish humour lighting the way. It is entertaining, moving and you do learn a fair bit as well.