The Beautiful Game, everything theatre

“As someone who is not a huge Andrew Lloyd Webber fan and has a dislike of football, I did not have high expectations for this production. I was, delightfully, proven wrong for the most part. Creative direction, fantastically tight ensemble work, endearing characters and some beautiful ballads were some of the highlights of the show…

“Lotte Wakeham uses the intimate Union Theatre space brilliantly. Traverse staging creates both a joyful football pitch and the dangerous streets of 1970s Belfast. During the football matches, the characters watching the game stand behind the audience so we are part of the experience…A few benches are versatile set pieces; they become church pews, locker room benches and a coffin.

“Niamh Perry leads the young but skilled ensemble as the charming, feisty Mary who falls in love with 18-year-old footballer John, played by a skillful Ben Kerr…Joanna O’Hare is the other shining star... Here, the audience sees the root of the conflict: both sides have unwavering belief that Ireland is theirs…

“…The second half starts with John and Mary’s wedding, but the plot deteriorates from this point. Suddenly, the characters have aged and are going their different ways. Whilst this is a sad fact of growing up, it is the undoing of a musical that relies too heavily on the misadventures and celebrations of youth…The story abruptly ends with a short, quiet number, with little resolution…

“Overall, this show is certainly worth seeing for the novelty factor of its rarity and the excellent performances by a cast with impressive credits…”

Intention: ☆☆☆☆

Outcome: ☆☆

Star Rating: ☆☆☆

Originally posted here on everything theatre.