by Nick Walker.

Belgrade Theatre (B2) Belgrade Square CV1 1GS To 26 May 2012.
Tue-Sat 8pm Mat Sat 2.45pm.
Post-show Discussion 24 May.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.

TICKETS: 024 7655 3055.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 15 May.

Scintillating celebration of a city and its soccer.
Revived from two years ago, this Belgrade co-production with Coventry’s Taking Birds theatre company now celebrates the quarter-century anniversary of the city’s soccer team, Coventry City, aka the Sky Blues, winning the FA Cup. If there were a number of empty seats in the B2’s terraces on Tuesday night, that might be the result of the team’s descent since from victorious final through semi-finals to relegation. Nothing worse, as Dante put it, than glad times remembered amid sorrows.

Though writer Nick Walker, director Paul Warwick and his team probably wouldn’t rate Dante as a pundit. For it happened. And as the beautiful game’s beautifully choreographed moments intermix in elegance and athleticism on the centrally-pitched stage with the lives of Coventry people as they try to reach Wembley, find a decent TV screen or go about their own affairs on the great day, the play becomes a rousing chorus to the Sky Blues and their supporters.

No-one can take it from Coventry (the Luftwaffe and de-industrialising governments have tried): they’ve a cathedral, a theatre and a team that give them distinction – and medieval Spon Street to boot.

Some things surprise – the fan who finds himself seated among the rival team’s supporters, to find the Spurs fan next to him joining in when one of the Sky Blues’ anthems forces its way from his throat. Yet Spurs fans applauded what supporter Phil Gilchrist called a team without star names but packed with passion and effort.

Just like this cast, in a production with as many memorable moments as 1987 itself. And never more among shifting scenes of ensemble vigour than in the story of Tony, whose casual racist comment leads to a shove and the impression he’s been stabbed. Arrived at hospital a mistake leads to him being attacked by a nurse (the most surprising occupational behaviour since Harold Pinter’s Caretaker reported being told to “Piss off” by Luton monks).

His pain and anxiety ignored, he stands clutching his side, saying “I’m 30. I shouldn’t have a pain here,” Richard Pryal’s offended voice expressing a tragic cry against universal unfairness and injustice.

Stephen: Chris Chilton.
Nick: David Colvin.
Gee: Clara Darcy.
Lee: Adrian DeCosta.
Brian: Stephen Harper.
Reggy: Richard Kidd.
Dev: Darren Kuppan.
Carl: John McKeever.
Michelle: Bharti Patel.
Donna: Anna-Marie Paraskeva.
Tony: Richard Pryal.

Director: Paul Warwick.
Designer/Costume: Janet Vaughan.
Lighting: Arnim Friess.
Sound/Composer: Derek Nisbet.
Choreographer: Vanessa Cook.
Voice/Dialect coach: Caroline Hetherington.
Singing coach: Clara Darcy.
Fight director: Alison de Burgh.

2012-05-21 12:20:02

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