More inspired performances on show as football play at Moseley’s Prince of Wales delights the crowd

AS WE come out of lockdown and the beginning of the end of artistic darkness forced on us by ‘that virus’, I am revelling in my privileged position as a reviewer, witnessing the rebirth of live theatre.

This night was even better as it heralded the launch of a brand new performance space as well – The Prince of Wales Pub Theatre in Moseley, Birmingham.

All credit to joint-impresarios Becky Jones-Owen and POW general manger Sterling Archer on this welcome initiative. Sterling? Where have I heard that name before? Ah yes, a chap doing rather well for our national football team at the moment. Ironic, then, that this first show  ‘1902’ is all about football.

It is a play about four Hibernian football fans who have tickets to the 2016 Scottish Cup Final to see their team play Glasgow Rangers  – 1902 in the title being the last time Hibs beat  Rangers.

This is though a play that uses football merely as one level of a piece which takes the audience on a 75-minute roller-coaster ride.

It all kicks off when his chums find that Derek ‘Deeks’ Longstaff  (Nathan Scott-Dunn) has borrowed £1,000 from local long shark and sadist Samuel ‘Sambo’ Donaldson (Gregor Copeland) to pay for their match tickets – without a plan B of how to pay it back. Scott-Dunn (who also wrote the play) and Copeland give superlative adrenalin-driven performances amongst a cast that exudes energy and dynamism with every word and gesture.

Sands Stirling, who also directs, plays Deeks’ hard man and drug dealing alcoholic brother Tony. Deeks’ pals comprise Johnny Tulloch as Craig Turnbull, Cameron Docker as Thomas ‘Zippy’ Collin and Josh Brock as Frank ‘Frankie’ Armstrong.

The final member of the company is Ella Stokes who turns in a stellar performance as Bonnyrigg barmaid Margaret ‘Mags’ Evesham – a silent observer for the first third of the show until she explodes like a demented Jack-in-a-box that jumps right out of the box and proceeds to wreak havoc on all in her path. Her decking of Tony with a tin tray was iconic moment to savour.

A special shout out too for Sandy Bain, who links things together with his guitar-playing and vocal work.

There are many twists and turns in ‘1902’ ending in a stunning kick-by-kick, goal-by-goal narration of the legendary match itself.

This is an inspired piece of theatre, beautifully crafted by the writer and passionately performed by a flawless company. The setting is perfect – we are locked in a ‘wee pub’ ironically within a real pub.

It’s a bold and brash and I cannot recommend it highly enough, grab a ticket if you can.

1902 by The Saltire Sky Theatre Company runs until Friday, July 8.

Click here for tickets.

Review by Euan Rose.

Euan Rose Reviews.

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