Review: Queen’s Theatre’s The Hired Man is a ‘timeless’ tale

PUBLISHED: 15:00 08 May 2019

Lauryn Redding and Oliver Hembrough from The Hired Man. Picture: Mark Sepple

Lauryn Redding and Oliver Hembrough from The Hired Man. Picture: Mark Sepple

Mark Sepple

With technology becoming more advanced everyday and the art of conversation gradually edging its way onto the endangered list, it’s easy to see why many believe we have little in common with those who resided in the 19th century.

But after watching a production of The Hired Man at the Queen's Theatre this week, I've realised we're not as different as you might initially think.

Set in Cumbria in 1898, in a world of whippet racing, hunting, drunken antics and farming, the tale follows the lives of young married couple John and Emily and their moving struggle to carve a living from the land.

While John, played by Oliver Hembrough, goes from a beloved, naive husband who dedicates his life to farm work, to a cynical, depressed man that works tirelessly in the pits, you see Emily, played by Lauryn Redding, fall for another man, lose her identity in the early days of marriage and grief a child who dies at war.

Both Mr Hembrough and Ms Redding give emotional, heartfelt performances that make you live through all of the highs and lows of their lives together.

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That, combined with the memorable music from the award-winning composer of West End hits Bend It Like Beckham and Love Story, Howard Goodall, makes for a musical that you remained gripped to from start to finish.

Having all of the characters play their own instruments during performances also adds to the wholesome and organic feel of the show set in simpler times.

Put on by the Hull Truck Theatre in association with the Oldham Coliseum Theatre and directed by Queen's Theatre's Douglas Rintoul, The Hired Man is not one to miss.

It may be based on the lives of a young couple from more than 120 years ago, but the story of love, betrayal and loss is timeless and a show that many will relate to and enjoy.

The Hired Man will be performed at the Queen's Theatre from Saturday, April 27, to Saturday, May 18.

For more information about purchasing tickets, visit

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