the gay community's support of the miners is an unholy alliance of Pits and Perverts.While at first these two feel like strange bedfellows, members of both groups shared experiences of being arrested and charged with offences they didn't commit, police brutality, fighting for rights, and media misrepresentation. With National Union of Miners bank accounts frozen, support organisations were twinned directly with mining communities. London's LGSM financed the Neath, Dulais and Swansea Valley miners, and held a fundraising benefit gig - "Pits and Perverts".
Micheál Kerrigan's debut play delves into this social history, distinct from the recent film Pride.
Last night's performance of Pits and Perverts by Sole Purpose packed in the facts about the early 1980s. Characters reminded the audience about hunger strikes, the mining dispute and the Thatcher government as well relating the experiences of the gay community. Still images from the era were projected onto the plain walls of Gene and Sean's flat.
Cimabue's Crucifix along with the works and life of Michelangelo were threads running through the play. There were moments of profound observation along with more stereotyped set-piece encounters and situations. At times the calls of "we're all in this together" smacked more of David Cameron's Big Society than 1984 industrial dispute.
Pits and Perverts took a while to warm up and perhaps ticks too many boxes as it combines aspects of Derry, South Wales and London. Conor Maguire's portrayal of Sean - at first stuttering and always prone to emotional outbursts - is very believable. Lighter moments in the second half nearly descend to farce as musical traditions are shared.
By the end of the play, more than just the strike had finished and there were fresh beginnings for many of the characters as the ambition to fight for other people's rights spread. (One real-world consequence of the LGSM's support for miners was the adoption of lesbian and gay rights as equality issues by the TUC and Labour party.)
The Lyric Theatre autumn programme seems dominated by plays featuring ghosts and the on-stage playing of music instruments!
Pits and Perverts is in the Lyric Theatre at 8pm this week (until Saturday 11) at the end of its UK tour. Tickets £10.