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Review: COAL *****

Jo Turbitt reviews a production that has 'sensitivity, brutality and gumption'.

In COAL, Gary Clarke transports us back to the coal mining towns of the 1980’s where community meant everything and strength was found in the sense of togetherness—no matter what came to pass; where a gritty depth of passion and character saw communities rise up and fight: not a government, but a woman—a woman who, in their eyes, was a monster.

COAL is a work of dance theatre that tells this story. Clarke’s vocabulary of movement and his storytelling skills are fuelled with an innate desire to give this period in the UK’s history a voice: this voice is shouting loud, coming from the gut and lingers for a long time after. Two lasting images remain: one of the beautiful heart of honest friendship, love and honest living, and the other of a woman who’s actions destroyed families and brought villages to their knees.

Clarke’s message is brutal, and he punches hard through a combination of earthy physicality, brutal drama and raw Northern honesty. The humour is spot on, and he’s found an absolute gem in the uber-talented TC Howard, a small but very mighty firecracker who pulls you in to the bosom and heart of the community, into every aspect of her world, with a no-holds-barred “come join party” attitude.

COAL lives in the souls of those that are in the piece, a piece that Clarke has created with sensitivity, brutality and gumption.

COAL (Gary Clarke Company) performed at The Traverse and continues to tour Scotland.

Tags: theatre dance

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