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Edinburgh Fringe 2019

The Beautiful Game

Next Door Dance

Genre: Dance, Physical Theatre

Venue: Zoo Playground


Low Down

We have four women who take us through the basic, the complex and the offside rule whilst showing us in playback, without VAR, the way we, the fans and them, the players celebrate the beautiful game. From the voice overs we all know to the stories of those we don’t we get a mixed celebration and exploration through movement and narrative of the hold that football has upon a large percentage of the population.


This makes for good theatre as the movement on the pitch, the gestures in the dugout and the fan’s emotions – either on a terrace or in the living room is ripe for parody and demonstration. There are few, if any games in the world where the vast majority of a population will decide the cultural temperature of their psyche on the results in a World Cup. But if there is plenty of material the question we must ask, is has it been ploughed creatively to hang together as a performance piece.

Largely the answer is yes. The strengths come in the lip syncing and the voice overs. The way in which each of our four guides can match the enthusiasm and nuances of each commentator comes through detailed rehearsal. They have the expressions and they manage each set piece with great enthusiasm.

The structure where they use a whistle and a game to manage some of the set changes is inventive though can, at times appear a little contrived. That contrivance does grate a little and the use of lip syncing to up the pace does not always work as well as the piece develops as it did at the beginning.

As for the casual sexism; the Lineker portrait and the Beckham cut out…

What I did admire was the absolute beauty of the offside rule and how the game they played undercut the whole nonsense that surrounds the stereotype; that was sheer genius. The whole ritual of the scarf, hat and top was similarly well explored.

They body swerved the teams supported neatly and the referee section was another highlight though it never managed, ironically, to match the offside rule – perhaps I need VAR.

I really enjoyed this and when the voiceovers from people talking of their footballing experiences heightened the overall effect and was quite thrilling. It began to become slightly disjointed through some of the movement set pieces where the space appeared to hinder the full stretches required or the opportunity to push certain physical boundaries. It meant that some timing was slightly off leaving one or two slightly behind the others.

It’s a decent piece of theatre that truly does entertain but a different structure would help build the piece. It meandered a little and at times did not seem to have any connection to a beginning, middle or an end which would have helped. Perhaps the ritual of a game without the extra time or penalties would have been beneficial, though a full 90 minutes might have been stretching it.


Show Website

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