Creators: FYSA Theatre
Reviewer: Linford Butler
On the 11th May, 1985, a fire broke out under a wooden stand at Bradford City’s home stadium, during a home game against Lincoln City. Now thought of as the forgotten disaster of the 1980s, it claimed the lives of fifty-six supporters at the ground on that day. FYSA’s The 56 tells the story of that day from three individual perspectives of Bradford supporters, adapted from real-life testimonies and interviews with witnesses, and is a well-structured, sensitive piece of theatre which deals with a contentious, emotive subject with the due deference it deserves.
The show’s three performers are all strong orators, and the story is told directly to the audience, from their own personal perspectives. The acting is competent and they have achieved a colloquial, realistic style of performance which makes the piece feel extremely real and human. The cast’s Bradford accents are well developed and convincing, and the piece is played with verve. Their performances are reverent and respectful, and come off as touchingly real rather than anything akin to falseness.
Technically, it is sparse. Audio files give a multimedia aspect to the piece, taking original radio reports of the tragedy and a reading of the list of the dead and using them to bookend the piece. The set is simple and effective, a makeshift wooden football stand forming the focus of the extremely small stage space. Lighting is extremely simple, a single state throughout, until the end. Overall, the piece is about its human story rather than its technical achievement, but perhaps the show could do more with the technical capabilities available at its disposal, and push for a greater unity between all the individual technical aspects.
The 56 is a strong piece of documentary theatre which is a very touching statement of rememberance, with impressive writing, well delivered. Sometimes, it can be a little rough arround the edges, and occasionally is a little static and lacking slightly in variety, but overall it is an simple concept delivered very well with an unnerving directness and stoicism which altogether makes it a very watchable, honest piece of theatre with a very human value.
Runs until 25th Aug