Patrick Marber’s warm humoured but brutally honest play is  surprisingly poignant in Max Roberts production at the Trafalgar Studios. 

The Red Lion, Trafalgar Studios - Stephen Tompkinson, Dean Bone and John Bowler (courtesy of Mark Douet)
(C) Mark Douet. 

Those who don’t love the ‘beautiful game’ shouldn’t let this stand in the way of coming along to see this wonderfully judged production that takes audiences behind the scenes of football to show how desperation and anxiety can lead to bad decisions.

Patrick Marber’s surprisingly poignant play shows three very different characters at different staged of their careers and life. Jordan (Dean Bone) who will do anything to become a professional football player, Yates (John Bowler) who is desperate to recapture what he achieved as a player and Kidd (Stephen Tompkinson) desperate for money and success. Along the way all three learn some hard truths about their lives and attitudes that makes for an engaging watch.

Max Roberts production is filled with warmth, humour and is even surprisingly emotional in places that is wonderfully brought to life by the performances of all the cast. But equally, even though the each of the characters are all equally flawed, Roberts ensures that the audience has plenty of empathy and understanding for what desperation has driven them to.

Despite the fact that this is a play in which more is said rather than any proper action to drive the story forward, the production itself gradually builds up tension between the characters effectively – as seen particularly during the confrontation between Yates and Kidd who try and dominate Jordan’s decisions about his future  (beautifully performed by both Tompkinson and Bowler). The final scene explodes with all of the emotion and the audience is fully engaged with it, feeling as though they are right there and living it with the characters.

All of the performances have different things to offer. Dean Bone as Jordan is sharp and not as naive as Kidd expects him to be, while keeping the balance between his violent streak with his Christian beliefs just on edge so the audience is unsure of when he will be out of control. In contrast to this, John Bowler as Yates is a more calm influence on proceedings – deeply loyal and only looking out for the best interests of Jordan it is a quiet and understated performance that suits the character. Meanwhile, Stephen Tomkinson delivers a wonderfully varied performance as Kidd – delivering his lines with wonderful bluntness and humour, while also showcasing a darker and more obsessive side that can be quite ugly to watch as the way in which he tries to push Jordan to sign his contract proves.

Overall, it is a strong production of a surprisingly warm play that is delivered well thanks to the great chemistry of the cast.

The Red Lion plays at the Trafalgar Studios until the 2nd December. To book tickets visit ATG Tickets

Rating: ❤❤❤❤


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