Theatre, It’s A Bit Lively Outside, Drama Studio
Joyce Holliday’s childhood memories of the Sheffield blitz were the catalyst for her book It’s A Bit Lively Outside, in which she recorded the recollections of Sheffielders of the 12th and 15th of December 1940.
The stage version was commissioned by the Crucible Theatre in 1987. This Sheffield University Drama Society production is dedicated to the memory of Joyce, who died in 2002, and it’s a fitting and very fine tribute.
The show is an engaging series of vivid cameos of war-time lives, featuring feral children, the Home Guard, firefighters, Air Raid Wardens, courting couples - plus a pensioner who refuses to enter the Andersen shelter minus his false teeth. There’s excellent ensemble playing throughout from the large cast, and Jill Wright’s fluent direction really does evoke the spirit of the times.
The piece builds well, and the blitz iself is impressively staged, capturing the devastation, the horror and the heroics. It’s all very British and unashamedly patriotic, but spliced with dark homour and singalong songs.
City Hall Ballroom
It’s been a long time since her last visit to Sheffield, she remarked, and perhaps it’s too easy to forget that she is much more than your standard American singer/songwriter/musician.
The opening Waiting For Your Child laid down a marker for the strong gospel influences that pervade some of her songs.
And accompanied by three deft and versatile musicians, she proceeded to touch all the other bases - country/folk/blues, even a dash of Mexican.
Much of the evening was dominated by her excellent new album, Silver Bell, varying the mood impressively on the likes of Don’t Let Me Die in Florida, Wild Dog, Irish Boy and the singalong Get Ready Marie.
She sang with the band, as a duo and on her own, and the quality never wavered.
After winning admirers as part of Robert Plant’s Band of Joy, Patty Griffin can undoubtedly make the grade on her own merits.