The mainstream media (‘our so-called serious local newspapers [and local radio station]’) ignored the production last week; in spite of two releases. They obviously intend to continue the writing out of history of Amos Sherriff. They can try! We will continue to be little terriers snapping at their heels. Nevertheless, a friend of mine who uses the handle, Easy on the mayo sandwich boy, provided this small review, so many thanks to him.
AMOS SHERRIFF: PLAY TELLS A PIECE OF FORGOTTEN LEICESTER SOCIALIST HISTORY
A Man of Humble Beginnings charts the life of Leicester socialist, Amos Sherriff. Although originally written for four actors, it received its premiere as a one man show performed by its author, Tony Church, with recorded voices and photographs at the Upstairs at the Western theatre in the city on October 1st and 3rd.
The play appears to take place in the head of the dying character and uses his memories from the nineteenth to early twentieth century. During this time, Amos Sherriff learns as a young man to read and write (taught by a Salvation Army woman), leads an unemployed march of 400 men from Leicester to London and moves the motion to give Leicester its city status back.
Most poignantly, he reveals that brutal treatment of a fellow child worker (Amos started work in a brickworks when he was six) stirs the socialist conscience in him and makes him what he becomes, “Us ain’t meant to live like this.”
The production by Stage Left Theatre features a lectern at which Amos makes his public speeches and as it becomes clear that Amos sees little difference between his Christian and socialist views, this could also be representative of a pulpit.
Maybe the play should have had four actors, but Tony Church gives an enthralling performance as Amos Sherriff. There is immense power in the scenes with public speeches, but the Amos in private is also handled with aplomb. The development of Amos from what he describes as being from the gutter to accomplished working class politician is a credit to the writing and performance. The voices in his head work well and their pictorial representation adds to, rather than detracts from, this one man show.
Although the performances have only just ended, I hope that it is not long before the play is revived, as it is a good contribution to a small political theatre scene,