There aren’t many professionals in the footballing world to have announced themselves as LGBT. As Tom Wells wrote Jumpers for Goalposts with footballing and LGBT issues united at its crux, it’s for this reason I’m always delighted when companies like Kite In The Storm choose to bring it back to the stage.
The play’s premise is based around the aptly named Barely Athletic, an LGBT 5-a-side pub team, on their quest to local glory. While this is ultimately what forces the five together, the play’s more focussed on the players’ surrounding lives than the football itself. Directed by Iain Davie, it’s Kite In The Storm’s maiden appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe having formed late last year. For all my excitement, Davie’s directorial vision is quite weak, with style inconsistencies throughout. The production, on the whole, has a naturalistic approach forged by naturalistic acting, costumes and props, but this is ousted by what feels like surround sound and dimmed lights to start each scene. The piece’s dilettante nature is epitomised when, despite the true-to-life style of most of the show, the characters are seen sweeping up but there is next to no dirt nor debris for them to clear. The only noticeable innovation from the original text is Davie’s decision to change the play’s setting from Hull to the Scottish capital. Even though this does little for the likes of myself who’ve no connection with Scotland, I expect it’s largely welcomed by those who have and particularly Edinburghers.
“This show doesn’t have much to be enamoured by”
By far the most promising aspect of the production is the performance of Richard Lydecker in the role of the infinitely loveable Geoff, otherwise known as ‘Beardy’. With extremely well-defined characterisation, Lydecker presents Geoff’s happy-go-lucky disposition proficiently but is equally as effective in the more serious scenes when we see Geoff’s compassionate side. It’s a wonderful performance from an actor with impeccable comic timing. Elsewhere, Ilona Andre is nothing more than adequate as Barely Athletic’s rather extroverted player-coach, Viv. Andre’s portrayal of Viv’s strong rapport with the other players is easily identifiable although, contrary to Well’s writing, she too often fails to carry a persona which the rest of the team would be slightly fearful of. The performance I was most disappointed with, comparatively, was Arran Robertson-Kane’s take on forty-year-old Joe. His attempt at a middle-aged man was, in my opinion, somewhat negligent. For a character that has the potential to be very stimulating, I was left relatively bored by what Robertson-Kane’s had to offer.
Whilst any staging for Jumpers for Goalposts should, theoretically, have an inevitable degree of success with its ability to inspire the likes of football and LGBT communities to affiliate more, the mediocrity of Davie’s production greatly limits how far that can be so. Richard Lydecker is brilliant, and I can see him going onto have a superb acting career, but aside from that, this show doesn’t have much to be enamoured by. In football terms, Kite In The Storm are relegation candidates.
Note: In some performances the role of Viv is played by Shannon MacKenzie.
Jumpers For Goalposts is running at The Space on the Mile until August 25th, tickets can be purchased here.
Image: Kite in the Storm Theatre
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