Jumpers for Goalposts**** (Bush Theatre, 16 December 2013)

Posted: December 17, 2013 in Theatre

jumpers for goalpostsTom Wells’ little romantic comedy seems to have been gaining momentum as it has toured over the last few months and it has now found the perfect home here. The Bush has the look and feel of a sports changing room, except that the tiled walls have been replaced on three sides by tiered seating. This gives a realistic touch to a play in which authenticity does not figure prominently. Barely United is one of four teams in the Hull Gay and Lesbian 5-a-side football league; the team includes a token straight and a woman, rejected by the lesbian team and acting as coach. The one act play simply features the interplay between five quirky characters over their six-match season; Viv (Vivienne Gibbs), the coach, is drawn towards Joe (Matt Sutton), an overweight widower; “Beardy” Geoff (Andy Rush) is a weak-willed busker; the two youngsters, assistant coach Danny (Jamie Samuel) and newcomer Luke (Philip Duguid-McQuillan) struggle awkwardly to overcome obstacles that stand in the way of them forming a relationship. All of the performances are generally well judged, striking the correct balance between comedy and pathos. The innocent and romantic tone is very reminiscent of Jonathan Harvey’s Beautiful Thing and, just as in that play, there are many times when the sugary cuteness is laid on too thickly. Although the harsh reality of life occasionally intrudes it is always in a “bottle half full” manner. The options are either to cringe for 90 minutes or to go along with it, laughing and crying at each unlikely turn and, once the latter decision has been made (who wants to be a Scrooge at Christmas anyway?) the whole evening becomes an absolute delight. Judging by the cheering at the end, 99% or more of the audience made the same decision and quite right too.

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