By Jasper Price, Third Year Theatre and Performance
A play that dribbles between the themes of greed, ambition and desire beautifully, Ed Viney offers us a snapshot into the lives of three people pulled together by the beautiful game.
The Red lion is an exploration into the politics of small-time football, a subject not usually encountered in theatre, but one that certainly lends itself to the stage.
Thomas McGee is Jordan, an up-and-coming young player who finds himself caught between truth and lies, right and wrong. His manager Yates (played by David Lloyd) wants to push him to greatness, even if it means sacrificing his morals. Club kit man and once club manager Kidd (Joe Sims), is determined in helping the rising star make his own decisions.
Performed in the Old Vic’s Weston studio, the space feels very intimate. Moreover, the play is set in a changing room where there is a great deal of undressing, which if anything makes the piece even more intimate. James Helps’ set is functional and unpretentious, and the addition of the advertisements around the audience adds to the ‘football’ aesthetic.
The space becomes a mini stadium. However, the game that is being played is more face off than football. Given that the play is a three hander, there is little room to hide when it comes to performance. Lloyd shined as the ill-tempered manager, his sarcasm and feisty ambition providing lashings of comic relief.
Clearly the most seasoned actor on stage, I felt that Lloyd carried the performance to some extent. Joe Sims gave a good performance as Kidd, the poetic kit man. His performance felt very honest too and he delivered his monologues with an earnest truth, adding to the characters believability. Newcomer Thomas McGee also gave a good performance, though beside the other two actors there was a certain something missing from his portrayal.
Myself knowing very little about football, I didn’t feel I was excluded from the subject matter. I feel that this is a play that in the wrong hands could seek to alienate those who do not follow the game. Here though, we are given an interesting snapshot into this strange, cut- throat world that otherwise would probably have never been thought of by the average theatre goer. For the most part I was amused and excited by the production, and with a little more time and polishing, believe it could score the winning goal.
Featured Image: Chelsey Cliff
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