Live Theatre Newcastle – until Saturday 25th March
Reviewed by Sandra Little
This latest offering from Live Theatre is described as, “A knockout play about Labour, Love , and the Beautiful Game,” Having watched the play this is a description I would wholeheartedly agree with! The play was written by Rob Ward and has been produced in association with Emmerson and Ward. It is set in 1996 when Newcastle United were a successful Premier League team, managed by Kevin Keegan, and New Labour, led by Tony Blair, were gathering momentum. The play suggests that these two facts were significant signs of hope for the region in 1996 .
The stage setting is a very realistic representation of a Working Man’s Club of the time and much of the action takes place around a centrally placed pool table. This set is also imagined as different locations throughout the performance. The play begins with Michael (Dean Bone) playing pool and he is soon joined by his friend Len (David Nellist). It transpires that Len is a long term hard left activist and following information from Michael, he decides to run as candidate for the position of local Labour MP.
Unfortunately for Len things do not go according to plan when New Labour candidate Victoria (Eve Tucker) arrives from Manchester with the intention of standing for the same seat. Victoria brings with her the New Labour view on politics which clash markedly with Len’s traditional left wing views. Len feels threatened by Victoria’s election campaign to become the new MP; a situation that does not please him and causes a great deal of tension. Through the characters of Len and Victoria issues relating to the huge differences that occurred at the time between the views of traditional left wing Labour supporters and the New Labour policies of Tony Blair are aired.
The storyline in the play takes a range of gripping twists and turns along the way and there are a variety of themes explored alongside the football and political narrative. Relationships, loyalties that are tested and the impact of past experiences on the lives of the characters are all woven into the the dialogue and storyline.
I absolutely loved this play and I don’t think you would have to be a fan of politics or football to enjoy it and feel the passion and humanity of the themes explored. The serious political issues are peppered with a great deal of humour which provides a lighthearted take on otherwise serious subject matter.It’s quite fast paced with some very amusing moments however the underlying political issues provide food for thought.
Live Theatre is a small gem of a place tucked away on Newcastle quayside. It prides itself in nurturing new talent and working with the local community. It is currently celebrating its 50th birthday with some fantastic productions and talented artists lined up for the coming year.