Review: In Time O’ Strife, Lochgelly Theatre, ****

SSFF 4013104 in time o strife 'In Time O' Strife - a play based on Joe Corrie's 1926 play - at Pathhead Halls, Commercial Street, Kirkcaldy
SSFF 4013104 in time o strife 'In Time O' Strife - a play based on Joe Corrie's 1926 play - at Pathhead Halls, Commercial Street, Kirkcaldy
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One year after its premiere at Pathhead Halls in Kirkcaldy, ‘In Time O’ Strife returns for a tour of venues across Scotland and into England.

And fittingly, it begins at Lochgelly Theatre, just a few miles from where Joe Corrie grew up.

This stunning, intense and powerful production brings his work back into the public eye.

Originally written to raise money for the soup kitchens which fed and sustained his community during the 1926 strike, it tells the human story behind a devastating lock-out - one that was to be relived with equal hardship and pain in 1984.

The strike has been going on for six months, and the men are on their knees.

Their cupboards are bare, everything they owned has been pawned, the handouts from the parish council have dwindled, and talk of strike breaking - an utterly unthinkable, life-changing step which still stirs strong reactions in old mining communities to this day - is in the air.

Jock, one of the older hands, has seen it all before but he won’t be a blackleg. His daughter’s fiancé, Wull, has bigger dreams of a new life in Canada and sees the bounty offered by the pit bosses as his ticket out - the same bosses happy to see miners driven to the very edge of starvation- to the utter despair of his beloved who is torn between her family and a possible future.

And behind the men sit the wome who scrimp and save, and keep families together under the most intense pressures imaginable.

It’s political and personal and told through the words of Corrie who spoke for the common man.

The songs are powerful, the dances exhilarating and physical, and the setting absolutely perfect. Walking into Lochgelly Theatre is like stepping back in time to a smokey community hall complete with dance band. Indeed as you step inside, the cast are already engaged in a wonderful sing-song which takes in the music of Pete Seegar and Ewan McColl - a perfect scene setter which moves seemlessly into the story.

There are strong performances throughout, no more so than Anita Vettesse in the role of Jean, wife of Jock.

And throughout this wonderful production you hear, and see, the power of Corrie’s words - neglected for far too long, but which still resonate today.

And now we have found him once more we should ensure his voice is heard by a new generation currently facing its own times o’ strife.

>> In Times O’ Strife is at Lochgelly Theatre until Saturday. Tickets from www.onfife.com - Thursday is sold out.

It then goes to Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh (Sept 9-13), returning to the east coast at Dundee Rep Theatre (October 7-10).

Full tour dates online at www.nationaltheatrescotland.com