I do love a night out at the theatre, it’s a chance to switch off from real life and lose yourself in a story. I try and fail to do this by reading, a beep from my phone usually brings me crashing back down to earth.
It’s been a hectic few weeks so I welcomed the opportunity to attend the press night of The Season Ticket last night at one of my favourite North East theatres, Northern Stage. I switched my phone to silent, sat back in my seat and tried to recollect the plot of the book with the same name and the film ‘Purely Belter’ which came out in 2000. I could have sworn I’d seen the film, but I couldn’t remember much, which was actually quite nice as I watched the story unfold on stage.
The Season Ticket follows the lives of two young Geordie lads, Gerry and Sewel (Niek Vesteeg and Will Graham) as they scrimp and save their ill gotten gains for a whole year in an effort to buy the illustrious Newcastle United season tickets they’ve always dreamed of!
Their attempts are as troubled as their backgrounds and we watch them battle agonising family conflicts which only deepen their motivation to get to the ‘field of dreams’, St James’ Park, to watch their heroes.
The story is both heart-warming and heart-wrenching and I honestly went from crying with laughter to wanting to hug foul mouthed footy fans Gerry and Sewell!
The cast included a couple of familiar faces from my last visit to Northern Stage which was to see Get Carter a few months ago (read the review HERE). Victoria Elliott returned to the stage to play Dee, the matriarch in the the Season Ticket. Her fancy peice Dan was played brilliantly by Kevin Wathen. It was great to see these two paired up again, Victoria is quickly becoming one of my favourite actors, her ability to make me both laugh and cry is in no doubt, I think the people in the seats behind me could actually hear me doing both!
The character that got the biggest laughs though was, without a doubt, Sewell. Will Graham who plays the loveable oaf is a former student of New College Durham and I can definitely see him going on to do many great things, I’m still chuckling at some of his one liners and facial expressions now!
I was also impressed by the fight scenes in the Season Ticket, I can appreciate how difficult it is to make fight scenes believable in such an intimate theatre setting and without any special effects or camera trickery to rely on. I’m reliably informed that award-winning actor, writer and director Renny Krupinski was on the creative team to make sure the scuffles and punches were flawless. He obviously knew what he was doing because I visibly flinched when there was a headbutt in the final scene.
As you can probably guess, there is a fair amount of tragedy in the plot and some parts of the story leave you feeling quite uneasy but what amazes me the most, everytime I visit Northern Stage, is how enthralling the productions are, even with the most minimal set design.
I was absolutely captivated throughout the entire show and urge you to go and see this wonderful tale of friendship, family and football.
The Season Ticket is on at Northern Stage until 8 Oct, it will then go on tour to York, Winchester and Dundee. If you’d like to catch it before it leaves the Toon go to www.northernstage.co.uk where you can also check out what else is coming up this Autumn.
I’ll leave you with this cheerful (if rather inaccurate) tour of the Toon from The Season Ticket’s main characters, Gerry and Sewell…