Hands Up for Jonny Wilkinson’s Right Boot review at Redgrave Theatre, Bristol – ‘impressively researched’
We won’t know until October 31 whether England have won the Rugby World Cup for only the second time. By then, Live Wire Theatre’s impressively researched account of four key moments in the cup’s history will have run its course, so there could well be a follow-up sporting drama to tell in years to come.
As its title suggests, one of the iconic moments under scrutiny is Jonny Wilkinson’s winning, last-minute drop-goal in 2003. Others are Nelson Mandela, dressed in a South African rugby shirt, presenting the trophy to Francois Pienaar as a symbol of the emerging rainbow nation, and New Zealand’s man-mountain Jonah Lomu’s four tries against England.
Strangely, though, they are only a sideshow to the little-known story of Fred Jackson, a star Cornish forward suspended from the first-ever British Lions tour to New Zealand in 1908 for playing under an assumed name in the much-despised professional Rugby League. Writer Dougie Blaxland uses Jackson’s story to comment on the social and racial issues of the time, even introducing a true love story between Jackson and his Maori wife.
At times, the storytelling tends towards the verbose. The quartet of players are at their best, however, when they lace the narrative with a welcome mix of Cornish and First World War songs, while remaining light enough on their feet to mime an impressive selection of game-time action.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.