FringeReview Scotland 2023
Five women who have found themselves struggling to keep themselves in housing, are gathered into the squad to represent Scotland at the Homeless World Cup in Milan. From their initial selection, through training and personal troubles, they get there. And then they truly become a typical Scottish team, coast through difficult games, get to the final and don’t quite manage to get the prize they were after – but along the way their riches overflow
This is a hybrid of professional actors , writers and directors, carefully taking the life of a community of real women who meet at the Change Centre in Dundee weekly as part of Street Soccer. As such the script could teeter from the halfway line of cliché and stereotype but manages to stay firmly on the midfield of authenticity. On a few occasions it does consider a few offside moves but with the discipline akin to the 1980’s Arsenal back four it brings everything into line with quiet efficiency.
Characters are clear and beautifully played with special mention for il gatto. Playing the housewife dumped for a model twenty years your junior, ending up staying within a stone’s throw of the home you have beautifully crafted whilst ex hubby and the new version is moving in and out of the front door defines galling – but the biggest difficulty is fitting in with a bunch of women with tough to hear stories. And they range from a single mum of two kids, an Asian younger sister and granddaughter with huge caring responsibilities, a former jailbird and a care experienced survivor, they have little in common until they know. And when they know, they know. It means that at all times they have a solid centre, competent attacking formation whilst also being able to track back to support when emotional gaps start to open up.
Theatrically it can be a bit of a hit and miss. In terms of direction there is much to challenge in how you make movement, fluid and rapid on a pitch, become dancified, stylised and almost balletic on a stage but keep the excitement. This is done veery well. The addition of the flags at each side of the stage works really well, as do the scores. There is little by way of set aside from setting things out like the inside of a leisure centre but the dramatic use of lighting make this work perfectly.
As a performance piece it therefore works well, though there are a few dips in the tone and the pace which are not covered by performers but the structure Despite it being about their advancing through a tournament with life happening constantly it could do with more variety. I wanted more of the stories of the women we met. I wanted to delve deeper and see them as more rounded as I got their surfaces and not their own foibles, aside from The B and Lorraine. In fact, The B was all supposition and rumour until we got to the bus stop. Her humanity and the use of flashback showed a great deal about the camaraderie of the group, of getting together which works because clichés are true and how we should celebrate when things are good and worry when people are not. The humanity shone through which is what any script that wishes to portray a community should aim for: we got it here in bucket loads.