Salford Docks from the 1950s came back to life in Sarah Weston’s The Salford Docker thanks to excellent performances from Salford Community Theatre.
The play started with Anna creating a radio ballad about the Salford Docks by using the history of her family who lived near the docks. The side stage was her ‘work space’ to show she was in present day.
The play was a promenade performance so it allowed the audience to have a front row seat into the world of the Ryan family who worked at Salford Docks from the ’50s to ’70s. However it did become quite tiring walking and standing around. There were seats but this did not allow you to have a good view of everything going on.
The first half looks through the 1950s when the dockers decide to go on strike because they are unhappy with working conditions and the way they are treated.
Clara Ryan (Kate Palmer) and Eleanor Ryan (Paige Steers) are growing up whilst their families are struggling with work at the docks. Both actresses play their role extremely well. They show how both the girls are trying to grow into woman and create a life for themselves.
The dockers are shown to be struggling throughout the ’50s when jobs were hard to come by and dock workers were begging for work.
John Ryan (Terry Martin) and Patrick Ryan (Dave Ramsden) are given the idea of starting a workers union and to go on strike after they were dismissed from the docks because the foreman wanted them to work when they could not as Claras wedding was happening the next day. Martin and Ramsden play their roles very well and really show how the dockers struggled before they were in a union.
Stereotypes of the ’50s were also used when Ayush (Jonathan Cardoza) comes over from his country to work with his dad. Eleanor warms to him as she is intrigued by him.
The other dockers families are not as warming as Eleanor and judgments are made throughout about Ayush.
Songs were used throughout the play but they were not really needed as the play its self was enough to be immersed into the world of Salford Docks in the 50s.
The second half Anna continues with her radio ballad into the 1960s and 70s. Clara had grown up with a family of her own and showed the life of her children who were trying to follow their families footsteps whilst showing the street they lived on be torn away from them by the council to make way for more modern buildings.
With the docks becoming a thing of the past the family worry about their jobs as Tony Roberts (Zac Peach) and Michael Roberts (Tom Long) both work their to provide for the family.
Angie Roberts (Rosa Wright) tries to follow in the footsteps of Eleanor and grows up to become a woman and protests for what she believes in.
Further through the second half we found out that Steven Roberts (Ross Cathcart) is Anna’s father. Anna expresses how little she remembers of the docks as when she starts to grow up Media City then starts to rise up from the docks.
She then decides to use the real voices of the dock workers. Interviews of three dock workers and people who used to live near the docks are played. Each tells a story from their own view point which was amazing to hear. It really give you more of an idea of what it was like for the families that lived there.
Overall the play was a great show of what the docks were like for people living in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The entire cast were brilliant and a lot of them played numerous parts but they all managed to give a compelling performance for each character.
Tickets are now almost sold out for the dates so audiences seem to love it.