Believable changing room humour in St Albans drama group’s latest production

Jumpers for Goalposts

Jumpers for Goalposts - Credit: Archant

New faces are much in evidence in the Barely Athletic team, currently performing in the Abbey Theatre Studio, and it is fair to say that all of them have taken to the local stage like ducks to water.

The Company of Ten has five newcomers performing Jumpers for Goalposts, a play which amounts to the antithesis of Euro 2016 in its emphasis on football.

For while each scene is set in the changing room of the Barely Athletic football team which plays in a five-a-side gay and lesbian league, the beautiful game is not the real issue.

Instead it is relationships, particularly that between the lovelorn Danny, played by Paul Spruce, and the ingenue Luke, Daniel Bury.

Four out of the five characters in the play are gay - the only ‘straight’ player is the widowed Joe, played by Michael Llaniog, whose weight issues and fitness provoke some of the funniest lines.

With the exception of Luke, whose sexuality is a bit of a mystery at first, the remaining characters nail their colours firmly to the mast. The only woman is lesbian pub owner Viv, played by Melanie Wall, who is more than a match for her team mates in every respect - and even accepts a bouquet of flowers from them with good grace.

Melanie gives a terrific performance as Viv who trains the team and dreams of winning a trophy - any trophy. Danny, a confident Paul Spruce, is the only member of the team who knows anything about soccer but takes his eye off the ball every time he sees Luke.

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Gavin Mathers as Geoff, aka Beardy, is equally at ease in the role as the team ‘fixer’ and he can really sing as well. His rendering of You’ll Never Walk Alone was genuinely moving.

Yvonne Harding demonstrates all her experience in directing the play and brings out the best in her cast. The play is not hilarious but it is genuinely funny in places with some very witty lines.

It could be argued that a more experienced cast might have better brought out the humour in some of those lines but they would have been hard-pressed to have been as relaxed and comfortable in their roles than this quintet are. They are eminently believable.

Jumpers for Goalposts runs until Saturday and tickets can be obtained from the Abbey Theatre box office on 01727 857861 or click here.