Director: Tim Ford
Musical Director: Angharad Sanders
Book: Melvyn Bragg
Music and Lyrics: Howard Goodall
With this year being the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme and Lichfield being a stones throw away from the Pitts of Cannock Chase it’s understandable why Tim Ford, Artistic Director of the Lichfield Garrick (who is also Director) chose the Hired Man as the first ever Community Musical to be staged at the Garrick.
Following the lives of the working class in the 1900s it centres around one family and the fears, troubles and emotions that come from being a worker around the time of war. While some scenes would have benefited from a little more emotional exploration, on the whole, you can’t take away from some of the raw talent that this production contains. There are some highly intense numbers from Rebekah Fleming who plays Emily and Matt Bond who plays her husband John.They play well together and have a very strong bond which assists in creating the emotional connection the piece requires.
The full cast numbers within this production are where the strengths lay. Musical Director Angharad Sanders provides the company with the powerful and passionate arrangements they need to elegantly portray the story. The fantastic choreography by Felicity Kerwin reflects the hard graft the working class had to deal with but also contains some joyous and celebratory dances which nicely conclude the story.
The set design of John Brooking appears to take inspiration from the adaptation of War Horse. Its use of levels works well to not only re-create the small and tight mineshafts but war trenches too. It also has an ability to show how the ground above has been built by the hard work of those who often go unnoticed.
The Hired Man is a fascinating insight into times gone by and the toils, struggles and tribulations some Brits had to deal with during one of the darkest times in our history. The inexperienced Cast gave their all into the characters they play and at times brought the audience to tears.There are moments that are spine-tingling which are only enhanced when it’s realised that the words spoken are portrayed by the real, passionate and talented people of Lichfield.