Set in the fictional northern town of Hawley, we join the story of Vinnie, the bi-polar drug dealer, and his five ‘career criminal’ friends, as they try to make ends meat. Car jacking, theft, robbery and sweet Mary-Jane all feature as their means to a life out of poverty.
The show is the brainchild of Joe Gilgun, and traces a semi-autobiographical account of this writer and actor’s formative years. Fans of Gilgun will recognise him from Misfits, This is England and Emmerdale, and this, his latest quest, to show the best, or at least, the funniest of his beloved north, does not fail.
The high-speed car chases, drug-related escapades, and confrontations with local gangsters would conjure the stench of Hollywood, was it not for the setting in the rolling Lancashire countryside. The drama is nothing special or new, but it is the flat, ironic, northern humour marinating the ridiculous I-know-where-this-is-going storylines, that makes this show special.
The petty crime that is central to this narrative is not what you think of while visiting these picturesque little towns, but perhaps that is the point of the show: illuminating what we would ordinarily sweep under the rug. Further evidence of this is in the long list of social issues it also tackles: mental health and the lack of support for sufferers, teenage pregnancy, homosexuality in close-knit communities, drug use, and migration to cities, to name but a few.
Despite this list of potential ‘downers’, presented here is a brilliant comedy, held together by a stunning performance by Gilgun. Truly, he is a master of blending the profound with the perverse, to summon tears and laughter in a single scene. So for a fresh voice on present-day issues confronting the north of England, blended with distinctly British comedy, all to the setting of ridiculously out-of-place action, give Brassic a go.