Review: End of the Pier, Customs House, South Shields

A scene from End of the Pier
A scene from End of the Pier

This week marks the second run of End of the Pier after a tour with theatre company Cloud Nine last year.

Music hall is arguably deeply entrenched in the history of Tyneside and it’s surviving incarnation of pantomime often taking centre stage each winter.

So does this play capture that enigmatic, weird but wonderful world?

It’s almost taboo to mention the set first, but there is so much to look at – if you can momentarily take your eyes off the performances.

We may be presented with somewhat unlikable characters – a man and his wife who both decide to kill each other – but it is very hard not to enjoy any of these fictional personas, or indeed the splendid performances we are treated to.

There’s the droll, melancholic but intelligent Lionel Bosh, sublimely played by Neil Armstrong, (triple dutying as a selfless director and writer).

He is often playing straight to his stage wife, the sharp tongued, quick-witted Edith (wonderfully commanded by Zoe Lambert, who is also returning to the role) and the erratic southerner Tam (Wayne Miller effortlessly uncompromising in a difficult voice and character).

Each actor equally and gracefully owns the stage. Particularly Bob Stott.

Very funny, at times touching and hugely entertaining, Armstrong, in joint production with Gareth Hunter’s Ion Productions, has created a piece of theatre about theatre that deserves to fill the theatre.

End of the Pier runs at The Customs House until Saturday. To book, call the Customs House box office on (0191) 454 1234 or online at www.customshouse.co.uk.