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February 10, 2018 / basabbott

Up ‘N’ Under


Up ‘N’ Under
New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich

By ‘eck, a rugby league team coached by a woman? About as likely as male strippers showing t’ Full Monty. But these are feminist times.
In 1984 John Godber’s play must have seemed surreal. Now we are more used to Lucys and Amys donning football and rugby shirts.
We are less used to performances by deaf actors, if political correctness will allow this mention.
Four of the cast have hearing impairments. So the show has sign language, mime, voice-overs and text on screen.
Tales of the underdog have been around from David & Goliath to Rocky. Teams of misfits trained to take on superior forces are always popular.
Showing a rugby game on stage is quite a theatrical feat, in Jeni Draper’s production.
One good idea is to have the opposition colours on the shirt backs. So the players just have to turn around to be the other team.
Although there is an air of northern soap, there are also moments of genuine tension and emotion.
Every heart is in every mouth as the last ball travels towards the uprights.

Basil Abbott

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