Showing at Prahran’s Chapel off Chapel and from the producers that brought us Blood Brothers, comes The Beautiful Game.
There are many Andrew Lloyd Webber productions out there in the theatre world; however I have only ever seen one. Tonight I saw my second and I am unsure if I will see another. The book by Ben Elton is brilliant and his subtle comedic wit shines, but the overly repetitive music & lyrics from Andrew Lloyd Webber had me enjoying The Beautiful Game less and less as the show progressed.
Set during the 1970s, at the peak of the violence in Ireland, we are introduced to a bunch of Catholic School Boys playing soccer with their coach, Father O’Donnell, at the helm. On the sidelines are the young females vying for the attention from the boys. With his eye on the prize, Father O’Donnell warns the boys of female distractions when the title is on the line. But for these young lads, the opposite sex is the least of their concerns.
With David Meadows as Father O’Donnell, Stephen Mahy and Stephanie Wall as leads John and Mary, not only does the full Australian cast speak with an Irish accent for the shows entirety, they also sing with an accent. A notable mention to Des Flanagan as Thomas, his accent was flawless throughout the entire performance.
With the exception of a few, it is clear this is no simple task as their accents wavered as the show progressed and – at times – even hindering their vocal performances. I feel that this production may be even better without any accents at all.
There was, however, one stand-out performance in the duet from Nicola Bowman and Samuel Skuthorp as Bernadette and Ginger as they sung Love in Peace. It was beautiful song about a time where the violence has ceased and we are free to love in peace.
I don’t know much about Irish history during the 70’s, just that it had something to do with Catholics, Protestants, the IRA and U2 writing a song called Sunday Bloody Sunday. The Beautiful Game is sort of a pseudo history lesson and brings to the forefront the very personal heartbreak this era had on the younger generation. I came out of the show knowing a little more about the history of this time, and if that was the intention, then they have succeeded.
Overall The Beautiful Game is a good production. The story itself is quite good and had me feeling love for the characters as each of their relationships blossomed. But it also had me feeling frustration as the same relationships fell apart. Yes, I have mentioned a few things above that I didn’t really like, but that does not mean it is not worth seeing. It may just be that I am not a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber and many will adore this little production.
The Beautiful Game is on at Chapel off Chapel until the 29th September and has performances on Tuesday to Saturday at 8pm, Saturday 2pm and Sunday 3pm. Tickets are available from the box office or online at https://chapeloffchapel.com.au/show/the-beautiful-game/