06 October 2017 to 21 October 2017
The acid test for a good Up ‘N’ Under is the final match and does it deliver the killer touchdown….?
John Godber, back in the 80s and 90s was the third most performed playwright in the UK, after Ayckbourn and Shakespeare.
Neither Godber nor Ayckbourn are anywhere near as ubiquitous these days but this 1984 romp should always be good for a laugh, and so it proves here, certainly standing out from the scrum of many of his – definitely lower scoring – later works.
It follows the, eventually inspiring, story of an inept team from the Wheatsheaf Arms in a Yorkshire amateur rugby league sevens competition.
Ex-pro Arthur takes on the Herculean task of coaching these no-hopers in a bid to beat the Cobblers Arms, the Yorkshire champions, the latter coached by a bitter rival who was instrumental in ending Arthur’s playing career Somewhat foolishly, Arthur bets his life savings on winning.
It’s commendably short, absolutely no time wasting – we were out by 21.15 – sharp, and pretty much gripping throughout, Godber’s script standing the test of time very well indeed.
The cast of six are a well-drilled ensemble and director Chris Lawson pushes things along at an adaptable pace that has time to take in the various (very lightly sketched) backgrounds of the principal players.
There are more amusing lines in the script than I thought there were and I’d forgotten about the theatrical device that enables two teams to play the final match - clever – here with Beverley Norris-Edmunds’ choreography wittily spot-on.
So, yes, it does deliver, an evening of undemanding entertainment that is roundly recommended.
Reviewer: Alan Hulme