Penny Flood is charmed by Tom Wells' latest work
Anyone who has ever felt the pangs and awkwardness of teenage love will get this. Anyone who had a dream that will never come true will get this.
But this is no Mills & Boon type love story. Jumpers for Goalposts by Tom Wells is set in the scruffy reality of the changing room of a 5-a-side football team. The team, Barely Athletic are in a league with three other teams (Man City, Tranny United and Lesbian Rovers) and player/manager Viv (Vivienne Gibb) desperately wants to win the trophy.
The story of Viv’s ambitions runs alongside the blossoming love affair between the two youngest players in the team, Luke and Danny.
It’s absolutely charming.
Luke is played exquisitely by Philip Duguid-McQuillan, shy, nervous, talkative, tingling with the delights of a first kiss. The slightly more experienced Danny is played by Jamie Samuel with enormous warmth and tenderness toward his new love and the rest of the team.
The play which is written with gentleness and humour is the length of a football game but with no half time. We feel for the team, the only characters on stage, as the action moves week by week through the tournament, and as emotional layers are peeled off we get to know them better.
They’re all made very human by Tom Wells who has a keen ear for feelings and the way people express their hopes and fears. Viv’s post match bluster barely hides her vulnerability, and all the birthday cake in Hull can’t mask Joe’s (Matt Sutton) fears of impending middle age. Nor does time take away the heartbreak of a bereavement that he and Viv share.
Much of the direct humour comes from Beardy Geoff (Andy Rush) a busker and a dreamer whose indiscretions and amiable buffoonery keep the action rolling along, as he fills in some of the background. But he’s not the clown he seems to be, as is revealed to great effect when the play reaches its surprising, lovely, uplifting end.
Tight direction by James Grieve keeps the whole thing on track with no lapses into farce, striking just the right balance between the hopes and the fears, the tears and the laughter to deliver a charming, funny, heart warming play, ideal for Christmas.
Jumpers for Goalposts is produced jointly by the Hull Truck Company, Paines Plough and Watford Palace Theatre.
Jumpers for Goalposts runs at The Bush Theatre throughout the festive season until January 4.
To book tickets call the box office on 020 8743 5050 or book tickets online.
November 29, 2013