Jamie Leith reviews Total Football, showing at Plymouth’s Drum Theatre this week. Catch the last two shows tonight and tomorrow (26 & 27 October). Tickets are available from the Theatre Royal website.
Political satire is the flavour of the month. Everyone hates the government, they can’t do anything right and until they are all stripped of their assets, paraded through the streets wearing mankinis and hung in the stocks for us to freely throw unripe pineapples at them, no one will be happy. I won’t be happy. Life is made only just bearable by the fact that the Premier League is back and I can spend more time tweaking my fantasy football team than I do working.
David Woods and Jon Haynes, the long lasting duo known as Ridiculusmus (I know!), aim to merge the above in a satire that throws proverbial ridicule at the spin doctors and boardrooms that tried to unite the nation through a Team GB football team. On the face of it this is a melting pot for hilarious sports and political referencing, and topical, jovial digs at think-tanks and culture committees. Unfortunately Total Football misses an open goal that even Nicklas Bendtner could have scored.
There are some notably funny moments where it is clear Woods and Haynes have a grasp on current affairs, but they misjudge their audience…
George Tomlinson’s stark office set houses a lost array of characters, with questionable accents, that trundle through a pretty lost narrative that seems to be less Total Football and more an am-dram attempt at The Thick of It. There are some notably funny moments where it is clear Woods and Haynes have a grasp on current affairs, but they misjudge their audience on that, resulting in a man to my left laughing at some pretty awkward moments when the subject turned to immigration.
I was genuinely looking forward to some gags and quips on the subject of football and its place in Cameron’s Big Society. Unfortunately the referencing to the beautiful game never strayed further than Alex Ferguson or David Beckham, leaving me craving some Opta Joe stats or 606 Robbie Savage rants.
In the shows departure from its advertised theme, we were taken down a bizarre route of loose theories on national identity and some very cringeworthy moments surrounding infertility. It really was all over the place. Also, its never a good sign when, as a performer, you’re halfway through your bow and the audience have no idea the show has finished.
In all Total Football was a curious, red faced and awkward ride, one that most definitely took a few wrong turns, but if nothing else the falling set was impressive, if only for a second.
Jamie Leith is an arts project coordinator currently based in Plymouth, and working on the Tamar Art Project, featured here in issue 2 of Nom de Strip.