by Gordon Steel.
Bishop Auckland Town Hall Market Place DL14 7NP.
3 May 7.30pm.
TICKETS: 01388 602610.
then Harrogate Theatre (Studio) Oxford Street HG1 1QF 4-7 May 2011.
7.45pm Mat Sat 2.45pm (Sat eve sold out).
TICKETS: 01423 502116.
Runs 2hr One interval.
Review: Martin Franks 27 April at The Castle Wellingborough.
A tight, professional production of a popular, but predictably structured, in-yer-face play.
Reform Theatre do writer Gordon Steel proud. This is an energetic, full frontal production of a now classic Hull Truck play about the life and loves of a group of Sunday morning footballers.
Kivan Dene gives a believably aggressive and brutal performance as Mac, the hard-man, soft-heart star performer in a rather sad team, with Matthew Booth counterbalancing as the sensitive, underconfident Tommo who finally gets his revenge.
Natasha Atkinson as Kylie, Mac’s rather stupid girlfriend gives a comic and sensitively honest performance, again counterbalanced by Amy Walsh as Mandy, the brasher, manipulative girlfriend of Tommo, who turns out to have a gentler, compliant side after all. Her monologue at the start of the second act is beautifully poised and touching. Richard Marriott ties it all together as the lumpen manager Ronnie.
This is clearly a popular company – it was great to see a provincial studio theatre full in the middle of the week – and the Hull Truck ethos is alive and well in Reform. If you like your theatre raw, vulgar and in-yer-face this is for you.
Yet it tips too often into unnecessary caricature (particularly with the refs), and I’d be happy with less of the oh-too-obvious comedy and a bit more of the pathos. Again, the whole structure feels a bit predictable, as are the small plot turns, both where they’re going to go to and when.
It’s good to find plays with a structure, setting and subject-matter that bring a different audience into the theatre. But in the world after Channel 4’s Shameless and The Joy of Teen Sex we’ve moved on from the shock and liberation approach of this type of play, and a different approach to this type of subject is wanted.
Tommo: Matthew Booth.
Mandy: Amy Walsh.
Mac: Kivan Dene.
Kylie: Natasha Atkinson.
Ronnie: Richard Marriott.
Director: Keith Hukin.
Designer: Carl Davis.