A few weeks ago, for my birthday, I had a trip to London to watch a play entitled ‘The Red Lion’.
Now I know it sounds like a pub, but it’s not! It’s a fictional non-league club riding high at the top end of their league with promotion on the horizon. It sounds like something I would’ve sought out, but it was my wife who found it after hearing about it on breakfast TV.
This however is not a stage play, oh no! It’s a studio not much bigger than some people’s front room, set up like a football changing room with shirts hanging on pegs.
There is a cast of only 3, Stephen Tomkinson of Wild at Heart and DCI Banks fame is the lead joined by John Bowler (The Bill) and Dean Bone (Vera).
Bone plays a talented young footballer hampered by a knee injury, Bowler the veteran wanting what’s best for the club that runs through his veins and Tomkinson the manager pushing for the best on and off the pitch by whatever means including the shadier side of football with bungs and brown envelopes.
Yates (Bowler) and Kidd (Tomkinson) both want what’s best for the kid in different ways, Yates wanting to nurture him at the club while Kidd see’s him as the cash cow to secure the clubs immediate financial future.
As it transpires, Jordan (Bone) has a niggling knee injury which fails a medical, leaving Kidd fuming and into a blazing row with Yates over their ‘prodigal son’.
All three actors played their part perfectly, injected with humour, those with a non-league club background will appreciate the moaning of the state of the pitch, this and that not available, it’s not the Premier League, but the performances are. Sadly, the performance I saw was the last of the current run in London, something to remember given the closeness of the set and it’s personal feeling being that close to the actor’s, if it pop’s up again, go check it out, even those with a small knowledge or interest in football get what’s going on.