I'm originally a Hull lass. The cast would probably not expect a native Hullite to be there scrutinising the accent when they come to Newcastle, but I was. The accents varied in authenticity and at the beginning were a little incomprehensible. One thing I will point out though is: there is no "H" in 'Ull, 'Essle or 'Olderness. Be turld.
This was not a story about football as such. The characters were members of a 5-a-side football team in a Hull gay football league consisting of only 4 teams. The team comrades Luke, Viv, Geoff, Danny and Joe battle through the season with varying levels of failure whilst dealing with their personal problems. Each scene begins with an announcement of the results for Barely Athletic, Lesbian Rovers, Man City and Tranny United by James Alexander Gordon no less. The descriptions of the spectacles on the pitch were a source of mirth for the audience as were the exchanges on the stage.
Characters are developed, baggage is offloaded, further baggage is retained, frictions grow and boom! major baggage is dropped, messing up a lovely little relationship. All this runs concurrently with some match after-effects as the whole play is performed in the team's changing room.
My favourite character was Luke the 19 year old from Patrington, his awkwardness was very funny and he was a likeable chap looking for that first spark of love, which he finds here, at Barely Athletic with Danny but it's not all plain sailing. I hoped to be surprised by the nature of the divot in the road of Luke and Danny's romance, but I wasn't, sadly.
The set was a convincing dressing room which worked surprisingly well in the centre of a stage which is one of the widest one outside of London.
The audience seemed to enjoy the show. It explored the lives of the individual team members and their little idiosyncrasies to good effect. It also provided a peek into a version of a gay community for those of us who live in Straightsville. Whether it is representative or contrived depends on your perceptive.
The production is a result of collaboration between Paines Plough, Watford Palace Theatre and Hull Truck Theatre. The playwright was Tom Wells, winner of the George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright 2012 for his comedy The Kitchen Sink.