The Pitmen Painters – February 2009


By Lee Hall, inspired by a book by William Feaver

Directed by Max Roberts

Venue: Lyttelton Theatre

Date: Wednesday 11th February 2009

This was just as good as last time. Although there wasn’t any surprise value because we’d seen it before (May 2008), being more familiar with the characters and accents meant we got even more out of the humour, especially George’s fondness for the rule book. I love the way Oliver takes his time to reply to George when he turns up at the hut in the opening few minutes. Oliver comes in, George says “Oliver”, and Oliver walks over to the side, picks up a chair, takes it to the middle of the floor, opens it up, sits down, crosses his legs, and then pauses for a few seconds before responding “George”. Lovely stuff.

This time round, the interval happened after the group explains their experiences in London. In my previous notes, I remembered it as being after the life model turns up, but that’s quite early for a break, so perhaps I misremembered. I didn’t spot any big changes to the text, and I’ll have to check up on a couple of places where I thought the dialogue had been altered, but overall it was the same play we’d seen and loved so much last year, with the same cast and equally good performances. I found I was more aware of the artists and their development than the interaction with Robert Lyon this time round, and less keen on Helen Sutherland, though just as aware of the sexual underpinning of her passion for art and artists. The final scene didn’t feel so out of place today, what with renationalisation of the banks and possibly BT seeming increasingly possible; how things change, and how they stay the same!

This is definitely a classic play, and I hope we’ll get to see it again sometime.

© 2009 Sheila Evans at

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