Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
Cast: Sheridan Smith, Siobhan Finneran, Gemma Whelan, Sian Brooke, John Dagleish, Dean Andrews, Steve Oram, Gail Kemp, William Hunt, Cody Ryan, Sally Carr, Faye McKeever, Tom Hanson, Erin Shanagher, Darren Connolly, Cathy Breeze, David Zezulka, Charlotte Mills, David Peel, Kirsty Armstrong, Macy Shackleton, Martin Savage, Steve Garti, Rebecca Manley, Paul Opacic.
It was a crime that horrified Britain, a moment in the nation’s psyche that leaves a scar, not because of loss of life but one in which loss of self respect and hope became the headline news.
The abduction of Shannon Matthews in 2008 was a crime that is unforgivable but it is also one that shines in a very dark room of thought, one sliver of tremendous light in a corner, a brief but beautiful light that is framed perfectly by Neil McKay’s The Moorside, namely that of hope and a section of society pulling together in a positive and forthright way to right the wrong inflicted upon them.
The three actors playing the women at the centre of the drama, Sheridan Smith, Gemma Whelan and Sian Brooke, are to be seen as not only forthright in their performances in such a harrowing story of betrayal and lies but showing just how a community can be taken in by such abuse of sympathy. Yet especially for Sheridan Smith as Julie Bushby, it is the head held high that she was able to take the mistreatment of people’s anger and turn it around, that she did everything to bring a community of people together in the first place is testament to the good in a single person overshadowing any hate.
The Moorside is not a drama which deals with the main subject at the centre of the story-line, this is about neglect on a much larger scale, government disgrace in handling the left behind, the abandoned, the complete disregard that politicians of all colours have in dealing with people’s lives and then use a social problem to kick that section of society till it hurts their own self value. Neglect of the people is rife and yet do the powers that be show any sign of true remorse in how they have handled situations? It is not only about Shannon Matthews, an innocent pawn in someone’s evil rotten game, it is the neglect shown to people all over the country, all over the world, to every victim of government playing with people’s lives and making them resort to desperate measures; this is the true neglect.
The Moorside is arguably to be seen as one of anger, it is understandable that people who gave so much to aid in the finding of a small young girl should feel abused by one person’s sick and twisted actions but it is also the mob mentality that worries the thoughts, we are not immune, someone wrongs us in a situation like that it can only lead to revenge, but as Julie Bushby shows and one that is so perfectly encapsulated in Ms. Smith’s performance, to show compassion and understanding is one that ultimately brings out the very best in the society that some will try to sneer and look down their noses at.
Ian D. Hall