Demolition Man, Octagon Theatre, Bolton
Tuesday 19 April 2011
Fred Dibnah is a towering institution in his native Bolton. A statue of the steam-engine loving steeplejack stands proudly not far from the majestic town hall where he was first discovered at work by a television producer in the 1970s. Going beyond the myth of the down-to-earth Lancashire sage with the greasy flat cap could have been difficult in his own backyard but Aelish Michael's play is ultimately successful in getting to the real person. Colin Connor fully assumes the character of Dibnah, perfectly imitating the accent and mannerisms of one of television's original reality stars. He is by turns passionate and funny, selfish and childlike, needy and driven. Ironically, as he points out early on, Dibnah was most famous in the 1980s and 1990s for demolishing the industrial heritage that he so cherished. He would rather have been a creator but alas – apart from the steam engine he built in his dying days and the aborted mineshaft he sunk into his back garden – it was for the spectacular chimney drops for which he was best known and to which hundreds of spectators would turn up as if attending a hanging.
Yet rather than deal with his ascent to fame, The Demolition Man begins with the steeplejack at a low ebb, lonely and ambivalent towards the fame that television has bought him and bereft of any kind of fortune. Twice divorced and with five children he does not see, Fred is nearly 60 but is reinvigorated with the romance he has with the young and attractive Sheila, played with considerable allure by former EastEnders star Michelle Collins. Love blossoms over trips to the non-ferrous scrap yard and snatched kisses rapidly and a little improbably become an instant marriage, if not made in heaven then certainly a convenient one fashioned amid the fettled flanges of his tool shed. Still, the first half of the play is funny and charming without lapsing into sentimentality.
To 7 May (01204 520 661)
Review: A panoramic account of the hacking scandalbooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Sabina Altynbekova, the girl branded 'too good looking' for volleyball, says social media obsession with her is a 'bit much'
- 2 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 3 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 4 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- 5 'Hello mum, this is going to be hard for you to read ...'
New Netflix releases: Films and TV shows coming August 2014
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy
Star Wars Episode 7: Simon Pegg hints at role
Guardians of the Galaxy - review: A superficial and half-hearted Marvel film
R Kelly dropped from Ohio music festival following backlash
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
- < Previous
- Next >