Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Entertaining for the true fans

Toshack or me!

Fluellen Theatre Company , Swansea Grand Theatre arts wing , January-20-07
Toshack or me! by Fluellen Theatre Company "Toshack or me!” returned to the Grand Theatre with more spirit and fans than before, (some who’d obviously heard about its success the first time round and wished to experience it for themselves.)

Peter Richards directed a piece as lively and atmospheric as an expectant football match itself. The feel and character of the game was captured within the show, with football chants and songs taking us back to this significant time in Swansea’s footballing history. 45 minutes each side of the interval cleverly backed up this idea of a match within a play.

It was great to see those who wouldn’t usually be interested in the theatre attending, and some Swans fans who remembered the giant leap into 1st division even turned up sporting their team’s scarf. Although it was a first time for many, it was clear they were made to feel very much at home in the way the show reached out to them.

Dave, the football-obsessed lead, was played with enthusiasm by Rhodri Miles. His super-energetic performance brilliantly captured the love for the Swans present in the hearts of many audience members, making them identify with and laugh at themselves through him.

Fresh from his Panto run, Kevin Johns took the part of the Vicar, who prays for his team to win and is filled with the wrong kind of spirit that often lands him in trouble. With his usual apt comic timing, Kevin Johns proved excellent entertainment, whipping the crowd up just as he’s done so for years at Swans games.

Johns and Miles were the main instigators of visual comedy – one of the play’s strongest points, leaving the audience in stitches.

Giving her husband the ultimatum, “Toshack or me,” was Charlotte Rogers. Sympathetic to her role as the football widow, Rogers reached out to the non-football fans in the audience – as little of them as there were!

Eloise Howe again showed her talent for playing comic roles in Natalie; a dippy-hippy councillor, who had to work harder to get the mainly male audience to laugh, but did so with triumph.

George Andrews as the Bishop sported great stage presence and awareness of the audience, responding to their reactions.

The supportive best friend of the football widow had a secret of her own – an obsession with a certain Swedish band. With zest and liveliness, Jessica Sandry bounced around the stage, proving her vocal talents with a celebratory song after the Swans’ success.

The use of a screen where images of ABBA and finally the all-important match were projected, transported the audience as if they were there experiencing it for themselves. As someone who isn’t the greatest football fan in the world, I was still caught up in the atmosphere and thoroughly enjoyed my 90 minutes as a Swans supporter. At times, the audience was almost as ecstatic as twenty-five years ago at Deepdale.

Definitely one for the fans, but still an entertaining night for all, Peter Read hammered it home for Fluellen. This nostalgic look back at the golden days meant the audience left in high spirits, having re-lived Swansea’s success for the second time.

Read seems to be saying that not all obsessions are bad, they can provide happiness and escapism, and those that deny they are the obsessive kind, need only to look at themselves a little closer.

Reviewed by: Ella-Louise Gilbert

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