The Space on the Mile (Venue 39), Edinburgh
Sun 5–Sat 25 August 2018
Guest reviewer: Hugh Simpson
Any preconceptions about a play depicting five-a-side football should instantly be put aside for Tom Wells’s Jumpers For Goalposts. (Photo © Kite in a Storm)
Kite In The Storm and New Celts’ production at TheSpace on the Mile is a bittersweet but ultimately sunny tale that is realised very effectively.
Pub landlady Viv, who has been kicked out of The Lesbian Rovers for her overbearing attitude, is trying to inject some enthusiasm into LGBT five-a-side team Barely Athletic, whose members have their own problems.
Despite a shift in location from Yorkshire to Edinburgh, Tom Wells’ play still betrays its roots, not least in a definite debt to John Godber. However, this is more than a derivative work, being beautifully structured and surprisingly touching as well as funny.
Being set entirely in a changing room after matches, the play sensibly avoids any attempts to portray sport on stage, and this is not the only thing that means that even football-phobes can enjoy it.
Director Iain Davie has the pacing exactly right, and the contrasts between humour and pathos – in a work that feeds in the various backstories at exactly the right rate – are cleverly handled.
bottled-up control freak
Shannon Mackenzie (who shares the role of Viv with Ilona Andre) is very good at the brittle, bottled-up control freak, while Scott Johnstone’s shy teenager Luke is a subtle performance.
Jumpers for Goalposts. Pic Kite in a Storm
Richard Philips (alternating as Danny with Andrew Davies) combines comedy and seriousness cleverly, while Arran Robertson-Lane is effective as the team’s ‘token straight’.
Best of all is Richard Lydecker as Beardy, the busker who never removes his knitted Peruvian hat. Another character who combines humour and sadness, he is played with warmth and a genuine sparkle.
Indeed, the humorous potential of his performance seems to come as a surprise to the other performers, as several times subsequent lines are lost in the laughter he provokes.
This is one of the few things about an otherwise assured production that could do with some tweaking. Warm and considerably more profound than it probably sounds, this comes highly recommended.
Running time 1 hour 15 minutes (no interval)
TheSpace on the Mile (Venue 39), 80 High St, EH1 1TH
Sunday 5 – Saturday 25 August 2018 (odd dates only)
Odd dates only at 12.50 pm
Book tickets on the Fringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/jumpers-for-goalposts