Jumpers For Goalposts (review)

Watford Palace Theatre has scored a winner with Tom Wells’ affectionate footie comedy Jumpers For Goalposts.

The action takes place over 90 minutes with no extra time for an interval and is set in the run down changing rooms of a municipal pitch in faraway Hull.

We’re talking five-a-side Sunday league here – with a difference. Barely Athletic are a pub team run by a terrier of a landlady called Viv. Her players are a bunch of no-hopers who were expecting a friendly kickabout - until the boss announces she wants them to go all out to win a trophy.

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Wells has come up with five such well-drawn characters that you take every one of them to your heart.

Luke is a painfully shy and awkward librarian who was tempted onto the pitch after falling in love; Geoff, a busker, is recovering from a mugging; Joe is getting over the loss of his wife and facing up to middle-age; Danny, the team’s “sweeper” is struggling to find love and a career as a sports coach; while Viv, Joe’s sister-in-law, is unable to grieve.

Together they make a winning team that will have you laughing and simultaneously crying in a wonderfully endearing and inspirational story. It’s hilarious and heart-warming without being sentimental.

Each scene takes us to a post-game inquest as the team struggle to find their form. But what they do discover is the true meaning of friendship which takes each player far beyond the confines of the locker room.

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All five also grow in confidence as the season progresses so that by the final whistle they are all worthy cup-winners.

Philip Duguid-McQuillan (Luke); Andy Rush (Geoff); Jamie Samuel (Danny); Matt Sutton (Joe) and Vivienne Gibbs as Viv are all exceptional and it would be unfair to single out any of them for special praise.

Jumpers For Goalposts continues at WPT until April 20. For tickets/ details call the box office 01923 225671 or visit www.watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk

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