REVIEW: Geordie The Musical, The Customs House, South Shields, until September 5

Geordie the Musical is on at the Customs House, South Shields.
Geordie the Musical is on at the Customs House, South Shields.
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It was never going to be an easy task trying to plug a Geordie play in a Mackem newspaper.

But if we put the football rivalry aside, like it or not, there’s a lot of similarities between those living in the shadows of the Wear and the Tyne.

Strong communities grew from hardworking pit villages and unbreakable bonds were formed among men toiling away in the ship yards.

It’s this very essence of loyalty, pride and determination which forms the basis of Geordie The Musical.

The play is based around the Melia family who run the Wheatsheaf pub - a popular haunt for yard workers – and their mission to save it from developers who wish to turn the land into a glass works.

James the father (Shaun Prendergast) is a proud former pitman who injured his leg and has now turned his hand at being a landlord.

Wife Bella (Viktoria Kay) is fierce northern woman, the glue of her family, who is determined to better herself and loved ones.

While daughter Maggie (Eleanor Chaganis), is determined to fight the class/gender system and attend university with the help of worldly family friend Oliver Heslop (Donald McBride).

The family, and their regulars, all become part of a Geordie dialect study by Oxford scholar John Thompson (Adam Donaldson).

The origins of popular Geordie words are not only useful tidbits of information for the audience to learn, but they’re also the catalyst for many of the show’s wonderfully performed songs.

Through verse, the language and history of region, has been preserved between generations.

The lament of the Trimdon Explosion – which happened in 1882 – by Tommy Armstrong (Micky Cochrane) was particularly moving and explored the horrors pitman faced, but rarely spoke of.

However, for every sombre song there was plenty of uplifting numbers filled with humour and of which McBride’s character was a little gem.

The mother daughter relationship between Kay and Chagains was also wonderful to watch, and will probably strike a chord with many of the region’s women.

While the banter between the men and the way they deal with important matters is heartwarming, while also touching.

The only slight criticism was the play ended too soon, did Maggie end up at university? Was the pub saved? Who knows.

Ultimately it’s impossible to stop your chest swelling with northern pride while watching this musical. And if you’re not northern, you’ll probably wish you were.

Oh, and for you staunch Mackems, don’t worry about being a traitor as the show is on at the Customs House in South Shields – that’s no man’s land – so it’s safe for a visit!

Geordie The Musical is showing until Saturday September 5 at the Customs House in Mill Dam, South Shields.

To book tickets, call 0191 454 1234.