The Last Ship, Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Sting’s passionate and political musical hit all the right notes in last night’s performance at Cardiff’s Millennium Centre. While it may have bombed on Broadway, this audience – perhaps many of whom had witnessed first hand the miner’s strike of the ’80s – sympathised with and were stirred by the passion of a ship-building community in the North East battling against closure of their shipyards.

Filled with rousing renditions of foot-stomping, folk-like anthems of defiance and community-sprit, as well as more recognisable Sting-esque ballads, the whole cast shine. Their singing voices are mesmerising and harmonic.

The story centres on the return of local boy Gideon (Richard Fleeshman) who left the shipyard for a better life. He hopes to pick up his love affair with Meg, the girl he left behind (Frances McNamee) only to find she has had it hard since he left, just like the rest of his community, and she won’t fall back into his arms without a fight.

He joins in the fight against the establishment and we find ourselves swept along in a determined David v Goliath battle.

Set-design is stunning – with the industrial setting of the shipyard set against a dramatic projection of a huge brooding and ever-changing skyline beyond the docks.

The story ends by bringing our thoughts back to the present with a passionate stance on keeping the NHS alive. Sting is said to have written the musical as he felt the need to pay back a debt to the community he was brought up in. He did them proud.

The Last Ship is on at Cardiff’s Millennium Centre until Saturday 19 May, and then continues its UK tour. More info here

Pics copyright of Pamela Raith

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