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The Beautiful Game?
The Beautiful Game
Member Name: Sootica
The Beautiful Game
Date: 07/09/00, updated on 07/09/00 (61 review reads)
Advantages: Fantastic cast and orchestra, good script
Disadvantages: Depressing, bad language
The Beautiful Game is ALW's first show for two years or so. A collaboration with the comedian Ben Elton, marketed as a musical about football (hence the title) and love but in reality these themes take a backseat to the politics of Ireland.
First off, for anyone thinking of going to see the show, be warned that there is a lot of bad language. I am no prude, but I was shocked although given the nature of Ben Elton's previous form then I should have expected it!!!!
As I said earlier, although the themes of football and love are important ones the main core of the work revolves around the religious divides in Ireland as seen in the 1970s. The football theme becomes symbolic within the work.
The set is very basic, an empty stage with very little in the way of special effects. Ben Elton's script is at times hilariously funny, yet can be intensely moving and direct. The cast without execption are all fantastic. With no star names to sell the show, as has become somewhat the norm for the West End (eg The Graduate, Notre Dame de Paris etc), they are all made up of actors first and foremost. The strength of the cast will turn into one of the strengths of the show.
Essentially, the music takes a back seat to the dialogue. There is one song in particular that strikes me as being particularly bad, but now, two days on, I cannot remember the others. They are all performed well by a fantastic tiny orchestra - no recorded music and huge orchestral resources used here. This show has reverted back to minimal effects and resources, letting the story tell itself. The direction and production helps in this aim. The story comes through clearly and strongly.
Overall it is a very different show to what I was expecting. There are few special effects, a funny script, small orchestra. Everything gelled together well - I could not believe I was watching the first preview. It is not a feel-good show though. The story beco
mes quite heavy and intense, so if you like to go the theatre to be entertained and have fun, this may not be the show for you, even with Ben Elton's input. The only thing that slightly unnerved me about the whole show was the treatment of the storyline. Should the troubles in Ireland be given a comedy treatment, even if this does not overshadow the message of the show?
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