Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/997/27430

From The Socialist newspaper, 30 May 2018

Theatre: The Last Ship

Sting's shipbuilders showcase class pride and change from below

Scene from The Last Ship, photo by Pamela Raith

Scene from The Last Ship, photo by Pamela Raith   (Click to enlarge)

Geoff Jones, Swansea Socialist Party

It's not often that a West End-style stage musical can be politically inspiring. But imagine one with amazing sets, great music by Sting, a strong cast - and an anticapitalist story line. That's 'The Last Ship'.

Returning to the Tyne after 17 years at sea, sailor Gideon gets two shocks.

Not only does he learn that the girl he left behind was pregnant and he now has a teenage daughter - but that the shipyard, the main local employer, faces closure. The near-completed ship is to be scrapped, along with all the jobs in the yard.

The manager and a Thatcher lookalike cabinet minister give the workers a lesson in capitalist economics: no one wants to buy the ship - it could be built cheaper abroad - and its only value is as scrap. The workers go on strike but then decide to occupy the yard and finish the ship.

The foreman, Jacky, effectively echoes the words of Bob Crow: "If we fight we may lose. If we don't fight, we will certainly lose."

In one of the most powerful scenes, when the workers hear that mounted riot police are massing to retake the shipyard, Jacky's wife Peg leads the women of the community to form a human shield. She says "the BBC won't be able to edit this report like they did at Orgreave to make it look as if unarmed women are attacking the police."

The show ends with the huge ship sliding down the slipway into the Tyne. Victory for the workers.

Although we are left wondering what happens next. Where is the ship going? It is no accident that the ship is named Utopia!

The characters are well-drawn: foreman Jacky, the sailor Gideon, a shop steward quoting Marx; another who can only express himself by reciting poetry, another who has become a hopeless drunk.

Refreshingly, there are three really strong women characters in Peg, and Gideon's girlfriend Meg and daughter Ellen. The songs, and the singing, are first rate. The message is one of working class solidarity.

All in all an excellent night out with a good message.


Pete Watson, Nottingham Socialist Party

In May I went to see The Last Ship. I was pleasantly surprised by the whole show.

Previous generations of my family worked at the shipyards on Tyneside so I was expecting a bitter and nostalgic journey about the destruction of heavy industry in the north east. And that was an important part of the musical.

But it was more than that. It brought out the pride that skilled workers had in producing the ships of Tyneside.

It brought out, too, the conflict within the workforce between a socialist union steward and a more reformist foreman, against the capitalist owner and a thinly disguised Margaret Thatcher figure.

Women featured quite strongly in the show. The songs were good and the cast were very talented. And there was a love interest thrown in too!

I did think The Last Ship was meandering to a pessimistic close. However, right at the end, a cast member came to the front of the hall and spoke to the audience about how change can come from below.

She highlighted the Occupy movement, the fight to keep the NHS - and the feminist strike and protest in Spain (in fact, the Socialist Party's sister party Izquierda Revolucionaria played a leading role in that). I was gobsmacked by the end!

I'm sure most people going there didn't expect a left-wing message. It's not cheap either to get in. But if you can go, it's a good show. Maybe we should ask Sting for a donation to the Fighting Fund...

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 30 May 2018:


Donald Trump

Stop war, fight Trump, walk out on 13 July

United working class movements can defeat Trump


Irish abortion referendum

Landslide vote to repeal Ireland's abortion laws

Historic victory won by grassroots movement


Opinion

Sting's shipbuilders showcase class pride and change from below

Aberfan disaster novel reminds us Grenfell was not an anomaly

The Socialist Inbox


Socialist Party news and analysis

Johnson and Rees-Mogg widen Tory Brexit splits

Welsh Labour reprivatises rail lines: reverse Tory sell-offs!

Toxic air hits schools as EU ponders slap on wrist years late

England facing water shortage due to underinvestment

Them & Us


PCS conference

PCS conference 2018: members ready to fight to end pay misery


Workplace news and analysis

UCU conference: Members are organising and winning - build the union, build the struggles!

900-strong north west NHS strike

Unison ballots workers at Yorkshire hospitals at risk of privatisation

Wales TUC 2018: Socialist Party members challenge leadership at undemocratic conference

Springfield school strike in Birmingham against job cuts and workload

Broad Left candidate elected as Usdaw deputy general secretary


Nationalisation

Socialist nationalisation: what it is and why we need it


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Action demanded from new council

Hands off Teignmouth Hospital!

Socialist Party members inspired by revolutionary events

Police shootings in Tamil Nadu condemned

Leicester plans sales boost of 1,000th edition of the Socialist


 

Home   |   The Socialist 30 May 2018   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Theatre:

triangleTheatre: On Bear Ridge - an examination of loss, set in a post-apocalyptic world

triangleEquity: reject UK Theatre's pay cut deal

triangleTheatre: Banner Theatre's Nottingham 'Free for All'

triangleWomen workers' militancy during the 'great unrest'

triangleTheatre: Ballad of Johnny Longstaff

Workers:

triangleSocial workers lobby Hull City Council

triangleSouth African Airways workers win wage increase after strike action

triangleThe Great Big Socialist Party Quiz 2019

triangleStudents and workers united in struggle

Socialist:

triangleBirmingham South East Socialist Party: General Election result - what does it mean?

triangleBirmingham South East Socialist Party: Socialist answers to the housing crisis

triangleThe Activist Issue 82 - for retail workers

Tyneside:

triangleArt exhibition: 'Unobtania' by Peter Robson

triangleEnergy retail firm collapse hits Tyneside

Shipyard:

triangleHarland and Wolff occupation

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

4/12/19

Socialist Party

The Great Big Socialist Party Quiz 2019

27/11/19

Plymouth

Plymouth Blairites side with anti-tenant landlords

27/11/19

Minimum wage

Minimum wage debate

27/11/19

BT

The private sector will never provide broadband to every home, nationalisation will

20/11/19

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

13/11/19

Theatre

Theatre: On Bear Ridge - an examination of loss, set in a post-apocalyptic world

13/11/19

Social Media

Readers' opinion: Twitter's banning of political ads threatens workers' voice

6/11/19

Minimum wage

Minimum wage debate: what should we be demanding?

6/11/19

TV

TV: Crime and Punishment - this brutal watch is a damning indictment of cuts and capitalism

30/10/19

Letters

The Socialist inbox

30/10/19

TV

TV: The Accident - Will capitalism be exposed in upsetting, true-to-life drama?

30/10/19

Film

Film reviews: Sorry We Missed You by Ken Loach

30/10/19

Economy

Life in the gig economy

30/10/19

Councillors

Opinion: Labour Party is structured to block left councillors

24/10/19

Liverpool

Tony Mulhearn - a Eulogy

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999