A musical about a gay football team entering a straight competition – seems simple but with at least three main storylines, it covers a lot of ground. Two of the tales are pretty predictable – do we ever expect they won’t win and the lovers will get back together? More interesting is the “will they, won’t they” relationship between Liam and Matthias. All the characters make an interesting contribution to the play and there are excellent, ribald songs which confront the questions of love and whether gay men can really play football. Having one ex-professional player says yes, and who could deny that it’s still the one sport where many are afraid to come out and be honest.
Jamie Barwood presents Joe (Cilla) as a lovable wannabe star, prepared to risk everything for the chance of on-field success. Separation from his lover Charlie (Richard Watkins) sets up the love lost/regained scenario but leads to some disjointed plotting.
The evening lights up when we meet the team. Duncan Burt (Tayzr) is initially that most annoying queen that I want to escape from, but his dogged flamboyance and transformation under drugs won me over without reservation. He touchingly revealed the sadness beneath his camp exuberance. As Pete, Harry Cooper-Millar is the rock of the team. A pity his character isn’t given chance to develop more as his success in the sack is only reported. Danny Couto (Will) gives us a gorgeous mix of desire and frustration but steps up to the mark to succeed as player and person. Joey Goodwin makes the most of his three characters, best as the bitchy rich kid Marcus, not terribly convincing as the supposedly butch Jase. Tom Mann (Liam) and Andrew Cannon (Mattias) provide the best, most interesting partnership in their tentative romance. Who doesn’t love a straight man… or is he?
There are some great laughs in the book and some delightful songs, perfectly supported by Simon David as MD. The first half ends with a song which could be extended – currently it fails to have the big emotional impact required. The cast all give everything to songs and choreography. We even get feathers and a boa – what else would you expect from a gay football team? Not just another “boys get your kit off” show, this production revels in the challenges many footballers have to deal with, and is positive about the tolerance that the gay team are surprised they receive. More than just a romp, this production scores on many levels!