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Nostalgia. In a good way

Submitted by on January 13, 2012 – 12:39 amNo Comment

By Eric Northey

Coronation St. Great writing. Nostalgia. A heady northern mix. The little pub on Charles St, the Lass O’Gowrie, is having an innovative Midwinter Lassfest till the end of the month. What caught my eye was a revival, as theatre pieces, of three early Corrie scripts by the inestimable Jack Rosenthal, first broadcast in May 1968. They are directed with great affection and skill by Helen Parry and wonderfully performed by a cast of actors from across the North West. This is theatre art as homage, rightly paid to a northern televisual icon that’s still developing organically, fifty years after its first inception. The Lass is the most intimate and engaging of settings and it’s that closeness to the actors that gives a sense of a real, shared experience of dramatic events unfolding in ordinary people’s lives. Seeing these snippets from our television heritage, so vividly brought to life by this innovative and imaginative production, showed just what a groundbreaking achievement Coronation St. really was. Many of the cast weren’t even born when these episodes went out, but they caught the essence of both character and style so well. But I think they got something else too. I barely remember the sixties – good sign perhaps – but watching these performances, so lovingly recreated, brought back a sense of the values that underpinned early Coronation St. Sure, on the surface, there’s that sharp-tongued rowing in the Tanner family, Ena’s monumental judgements laid down like concrete slabs, Minnie’s fawning timidity, Annie Walker’s upwardly mobile aspirations, but underneath it all was a sense of shared values, of common experiences, of tolerant friendship. It was those things that bound people together. And tenderness – that least appreciated of all the virtues. When Elsie cooks her son his ‘last’ breakfast, Albert collects from the community for a wonderfully tasteless wedding present, or Ena, with infinite gentleness says, “Good night, lass” to the forsaken bride, who will sleep alone on the couch on her wedding night: these were genuinely touching moments, performed with understated grace by a very fine cast. It’s on again on Thursday 7.30pm and 9.00pm and then on Sunday, 4.00pm and 6.00pm. Well worth catching.

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