In what has seemed like the blink of an eye, The Last Ship has arrived in Manchester, the final destination of its UK voyage, where it docks at The Lowry until Saturday 7 July. The reviews from Tuesday's opening night in the city have been extremely positive as they have been since the play opened in Newcastle in March. Some tickets remain available here.
The Manchester Evening News commented that it was: "...a thought-provoking and visually stunning piece of theatre." and "The social and political upheavals of this time in the 1980s make it heart-wrenching to watch, but the story of a town’s industry in decline is clearly one that still resonates with audiences - with a standing ovation on opening night in Salford. It is all set in a truly epic stage design that recreates on a staggering scale the shipyards - which is worth the ticket price alone."
British Theatre Guide commented: "There are great performances all round - Penelope Woodman gives a very powerful performance as Peggy White, not looking at all like a stand-in - in a production that is very tightly directed by book writer Lorne Campbell. However the star must be the set by 59 Productions using projections and gauzes to completely transform the stage in an instant between house interiors, a church, the shipyard and many other locations. But, while the final ship launch is breathtaking, it is the more subtle touches that really make it, like when Meg and Gideon talk about the past and their shadows become those of their younger selves dancing, or when the lighthouse sweeps round in the distance and the shadows of the real structures appear to move as though the beam were crossing the stage. Beautifully done."
The Arts Shelf commented: "A triumphant and uplifting homage to the solidarity and spirit of the working class Tyneside community, The Last Ship is undoubtedly at its most effective when exploring the politics of the era and the lives and hardships of the workers, with Sting’s heartfelt songs delivering a host of rousing choral anthems, empowering foot-stompers, and reflective ballads."
Opening Night commented: "The production design by 59 Productions is outstanding: one minute you’re in a dockyard the next a church complete with stain glass windows and eerie echo. Above we have the claustrophobic grey clouds, and magnificent tower cranes: the visuals take this production to another level, never ‘showy’ or flash, just simply stunning. Anyone expecting an all singing, all dancing musical affair complete with ‘jazz-hands’ need look elsewhere, for this is production filled heart, soul and an unashamed political agenda."
This Is Lancashire commented: "The Last Ship is unashamedly nostalgic at times. The workers are a misfit bunch with hearts of gold. There's Adrian Sanderson the dockyard poet, prone to quoting Shakespeare and Homer to the bemusement of his colleagues; Davey Harrison, seemingly permanently drunk and ready for a fight and shop steward Billy Thompson fighting the cause of the proletariat. It is also overtly political; the blue suited baroness from the Department of Trade and Industry has more than a passing resemblance to Margaret Thatcher; there are rousing speeches about community and skilled workers being allowed to do what they do best. But collectively it all works so well. At times it's very funny, at others it's deeply moving. I won't spoil it but there's one scene which will bring a lump to the throat of the most hardened character."
The Last Ship continues at the Lowry until Saturday 7 July. Tickets are still available here.