This is not a piece that is performed often but perhaps other groups should consider this type of challenge. The play centres on a man’s disillusion with Watford FC following the 1984 FA Cup final loss to Everton. Elton John’s glasses being blamed by a rather convoluted route for the second goal. His home is the setting throughout, with the other characters crashing into his rather reclusive world. It was an absorbing production whereby a whole series of unlikely elements come together to break into a world within a world. All in all this was a very enjoyable evening with everyone working hard to make it memorable.
The casting was excellent. Each of the players fitted the characters perfectly showing good and considered casting.
Mark Stannett (Bill) gave an excellent performance as the central character obsessed and then disillusioned by his support for Watford. His portrayal was finely balanced with rage and bordering on madness.
John Laing as Dan, Bill’s younger brother played the part of a wide boy well.
Giles Checkley (Shaun) as the guitarist in Dan’s band looked the part and played it well.
Richard Frampton (Tim) the drummer of the band was the one wearing Elton’s glasses. His portrayal of someone with poor vision was convincing and not too overdone.
Kathryn Young (Amy) played a 16 year old tom boy obsessed with football and seemed for all that to be the sanest of the bunch.
Amanda Clarke (Julie) Bill’s love interest played the part with gusto and showed good comic timing throughout.
Ian Pring’s direction was good, with excellent use of the small stage space available and the interaction between the players excellent.
This worked well, some props were needed and with no costume changes to complicate things everything went smoothly.
The sound carried well and I could hear everything clearly even from the back of the seating. The music was pre-recorded and used to add impact.
A simple rig but effective I especially liked a part where the agoraphobic Bill faces the world outside his door obviously after a prolonged period, illuminated from off stage giving the illusion of both daylight and perhaps symbolically illuminating his world and the change he was undergoing.
A simple set with black walls and a door, an armchair and a TV being the main focus. The set being so sparse fitted in with the script since much mention is made of the rather Spartan furnishings. It also helped reinforce the gloomy atmosphere needed at the start of the play and served well as Bill moves out of a rather secluded world and into a new reality.
The props consisted of a TV, two videos and various musical instruments. All were used to good effect and seemed authentic for the times.
Though contemporary (the play is set in 1996) we had a few subtle touches which showed good use of the costumes. Bill as the lonely slob had both dishevelled clothing including a vest under the shirt which was complete with food stains. His jack the lad brother Dan ( played by John Laing) sported a hat which re-enforced the ducking and diving nature of the character. Kathryn Young played Amy, a young girl obsessed with Watford, and sported the shirt of the time. All in all the costumes added to the effect.
I found the programme a little unconventional. The notes seemed to be about the career of Elton John rather than the play or its author and as Elton is a very peripheral part of the story this was odd.
Front of House
Once again I was greeted by the front of house staff and made to feel comfortable. I found them helpful and welcoming adding to the experience of the evening in fact it is clearly the norm for this group which generates a family atmosphere for every member of the audience.