‘The darkness and depravity of Mike Ashley’: Newcastle United themed play bring celebs to Whitley Bay theatre

North East playwright Jamie Eastlake has brought the much loved Newcastle story to the theatre.

The story of Gerry and Sewell and their desperate attempts to make money for Newcastle United season tickets still lives on in our Geordie hearts. Originally a book by Jonathan Tulloch, named The Season Ticket, the story was then adapted into a film, changing its title to the geordie slang phrase, Purely Belter.

Now, 22 years later the story is still being told, as North East playwright Jamie Eastlake has adapted the story into a play, which is now performing its second run at the local theatre venue Laurels, in Whitley Bay.

We spoke to Jamie, to find out more about the behind the scenes, the inspiration and the future of the play.

North East playwright Jamie Eastlake, with the text of the play.

He said: “I’ve always loved the film Purely Belter and the book The Season Ticket, I wanted to turn it into a play years ago. I contacted Jonathan and he was more than happy with my idea.

“We’ve really tried to bring the darkness and depravity of the last few years of Mike Ashley and the Tories running the country that surrounds the boy’s story.”

Cast in the role of Gerry is Dean Logan, from Wallsend, who has TV credits to his name such as Coronation Street as well as theatre experience on Broadway.

Jamie said: “I’d worked with Dean Logan before, and he always talked about how it would be a dream role for him..

Dean Logan plays the role of Gerry.

“He’s such a true, hard working professional. It made total sense for him to play Gerry.”

Internet comedian Jack Bart previously played the role of Sewell but due to ‘creative differences’, Jamie will be playing the role for the remainder of the run himself.

Rebecca Clayburn plays a ‘demonic’ narrator named Tyneside, and Jamie described her as ‘an absolute superstar’. Rebecca also plays the roles of fifteen other characters within the story, including Mrs McCarten (Gerry’s mam), Ginga (the hard of hearing scrap collector), and even puppeteers the dog, Rusty.

Rebecca Clayburn plays fifteen different characters, including the narrator ‘Tyneside’.

Speaking of Rusty the dog, Jamie shared with us a behind the scenes moment of why they decided to use a puppet in the production.

He said: “We seriously considered using a real dog (set designer Richard’s dog), it’s a lush, old scraggly thing.

“We had some rehearsals to see how he coped. It wasn’t until he did his business on the set we realised a puppet would be much better behaved!”

The set design is a role in itself, with props such as a Tyne and Wear Metro sign, and the famous Angel of The North.

With nearly 30 performances of the play so far, Jamie explained that the show has been a hit already with the local audience.

He said: “The future for the show looks dead exciting.

“The film and novel are so legendary, when people hear that it’s on they jump at the chance to see it.”

One audience member happened to be Geordie hero Tim Healy, who played the role of Gerry’s dad in the film.

Jamie admitted: “Tim’s an absolute legend. So supportive and interesting. A Geordie gent.”

Laurel’s Whitley Bay has such an intimate setting, that it makes the performance really special, and allows the audience to experience the play on a personal level. However, when asked if the show would do well in bigger theatres, Jamie added: “The show has been so well received, I do think it has the scope to move into a bigger space.

“Get Amanda and Mehdrad on the blower and we’ll do it at the cathedral on the hill!”

Gerry and Sewell: A Purely Belter Adventure is absolutely astounding. It brings the northern charm of the original book to 2022, with a great script and immense talent coming from all three actors Dean Logan, Jamie Eastlake and Rebecca Clayburn.

It is packed with hilarity and stand-out comedic moments throughout, yet littered with incredibly unforgettable emotional moments, and so much hope for the two lads we all resonate with in one way or another. An absolute must see!

Gerry and Sewell: A Purely Belter Adventure has two dates left of its run, you can purchase tickets for August 12 and 13 here.