A play which recently had its world premiere at the Tyneside Irish Centre in Newcastle could be set to go on a national tour of the UK and Ireland.
Carrying David is the story of how Glenn McCrory, a lad from an Irish family, rose from the depths of the economic wilderness created by the Thatcher government in North West Durham to become cruiserweight boxing champion of the world.
Glenn grew up in Annfield Plain, a village surrounded by closing collieries in the 1970’s. He went to St. Patrick’s school in nearby Dipton, a parish built entirely on
post-famine Irish emigrants who flocked to the area for the booming mining and steel industries. The church in Dipton is so huge it could now accommodate the whole local population. After the mines the workforce was sustained for a while by the Consett Iron Works six miles away. This again had been a magnet for Irish labour making the town a vibrant Irish enclave with a thriving Irish Democratic League club (the Demi) – now owned by a rugby team. The cruel closure of the steelworks in 1980 spelt disaster for the town and its neighbouring district: 3.700 workers were dismissed from a nationalised but very profitable enterprise.
Ed Waugh’s play, based on Glenn’s autobiography, tells how the large McCrory
Family held together heroically through the grim times and even gave shelter,
comfort and love to David, Glenn’s adopted brother. No one else wanted to care
for a boy so severely disabled with a crippling and degenerative condition. Hence the title: Glenn carried his brother to school to get there on time and avoid the big stick given to latecomers in those days. David in turn became his inspiration charting his rise from the local boxing club to the world stage in his scrapbook and collection of memorabilia.
This is a serious play. It exposes the nasty side of the fight game with managers
and agents ripping off vulnerable young lads with even Commonwealth champions forced back to benefits Britain between contests and as much as eighty per cent of the purse deducted at source. But amongst the pathos there’s plenty of humour too - If only in the stark contrast of his forays to Florida to Mike Tyson’s camp and his return to the unemployment capital of the North dubbed “Giro City” by the Sun-reading comedians around then.
Don’t be put off by the fact that this show has only one actor! Not only is Micky
Cochrane’s performance stunningly effective but the script, production and
technical detail all combine to create a coherent tale in an authentic context. It
received a standing ovation at the Irish Centre in Newcastle on Tyne and at every theatre visited on its opening run. The play ends with Micky in his boxing kit in a round-by-round enactment of his title bout. Of course, we know he won it but we are still gripped by the doubt and drama of it all as he finally climbs the summit of world boxing from the depths of the dole queue.
Glenn, by the way, is a very happy ex-boxer now, he’s a former Sky TV commentator and commentates for TalkSport Radio, living in Newcastle with a lovely family and very proud of his Geordie and Irish heritage.
When Carrying David comes your way don’t miss it.