The delicate balance between humour and pathos is seldom achieved with such deftness as is displayed in Tom Wells’ remarkable new play.
As we follow the fortunes of a gay five-a-side football team through an extremely haphapzard season, the stories of the five characters unfold to form an extraordinarily touching and uplifting evening of theatre. The comedy is lively, often uproarious, but the true power of Wells’ writing is how easily the humour suddenly flips over into pain and grief, with no sense of awkward dislocation. This is down to the creation of complex, subtle characters, and the talented cast who bring them wholeheartedly to life, under the assured direction of James Grieve.
Jamie Samuel brings poignancy and warmth to Danny and his relationship issues, and the interplay in his gentle wooing of desperately shy Luke (Philip Duguid-McQuillan) is both charming and tender. Their dialogue is notable because so much is invested in what is not said, and yet we feel their emotions so powerfully. Danny’s friend Geoff is played by Andy Rush, who revels in some of the play’s funniest lines, but who also gives a subtle performance that almost wordlessly conveys his character’s innate loneliness.
One minor criticism is that the story of grief and loss involving Viv and Joe (skilfully playe by Vivienne Gibbs and Matt Sutton) warranted more exposure. But overall this is a stunning piece of writing - fresh, funny, painful, engaging.