Hull New Theatre, Hull – until 14 September 2019

Reviewed by Dawn Bennett


Having seen many of John Godber’s plays over the years, and the film of the same name, I had a rough idea what to expect, but this far exceeded my expectations.

Arthur Hoyle (Jamie Smelt), ex pro player, bets the Cobblers Arms manager Reg (Adrian Hood) that he can take the worse team that Reg picks and turn them into winners in 5 weeks. The Wheatsheaf Arms are that team, they struggle to get more than 4 players and their idea of a “heavy” training session usually consist of sinking a few pints after passing the ball a bit!

From a run of unbroken defeats to winners in five weeks seems a bit of a tall order.

The team Tony (Frazer Hammill), Steve (Lamin Touray), Frank (James Lewis) and Phil (Luke Adamson) are a motley crew to say the least. From someone who had “trials” when he was at college to a would-be male stripper, they need someone to whip them into shape. This comes in the shape of Hazel (Martha Godber) who has the unenviable task of improving the team’s fitness, and as the daughter of local rugby legend she is well aware of what is needed and what an uphill struggle it will be!

The play is a mixture of emotions and we ended up cheering the underdogs on. John Godber’s characters are always so well written and the brilliant acting by the cast made the characters very believable. The match at the end was so well done there was cheering when the tries were made, we really felt like we were watching a match!

A special mention must go to the British Sign Language Interpreter, Andrew Higgins, who signed everything (including the songs) fabulously!

If you love rugby, love John Godber plays or just want a brilliant night out…go!!