Oh woe! When Arthur Smith and Chris England's football comedy first appeared a decade ago it attracted generally favourable notices. So, despite a curious piece of scheduling that saw this production open just as the World Cup came to a dramatic finale, it seemed timely to make its acquaintance. Imagine a rabbit caught in the glare of a car's headlights- this is exactly how I felt after just ten minutes, mesmerised for all the wrong reasons.
In order to be topical, director Steve Richards has introduced the character of Sven (based on England coach Sven Goran Ericsson) as compere but whilst it's a nifty idea, in practice it simply doesn't work and 'Sven' keeps popping up like an intrusive head waiter.
The play's premise is that it is July 1990 and whilst England are playing Germany in the World Cup, couple Bill & Monica are on holiday in Majorca, ostensibly there to repair their ailing marriage. Obsessed with football, Bill gives little attention to his wife who dreams fatuously of a liaison with football supremo Gary Lineker and when workmate Ian - a man who would drive you to murder in minutes- and voluptuous holiday rep Birgitta appear, trouble really starts to brew. The problem with all this is that without a decent script and some deft comedy, does one really care?! The puppet figure of Lineker raises the odd chuckle and there are a couple of genuinely mirthful moments but despite a perfectly reasonable cast it's all painfully pallid stuff. Presumably the original production must- just must- have been superior to generate such positivity so one can only give the benefit of the doubt!