Thursday, May 30

Same Team – A Street Soccer Story – Traverse Theatre

From the pens of Robbie Jack and Jack Nurse, comes the story of five disparate women all struggling in their own way, but brought together as a team to represent Scotland at the Homeless World Cup in Italy. Created alongside the women from the Dundee Change Centre, an initiative which uses football to inspire and empower the excluded, the marginalised and the homeless.

The high-charged atmosphere of the five-aside pitch is brought brilliantly to life in a cleverly conceived gymnasium set by Alisa Kalyanova, complete with floodlighting and pitch lines. The Traverse 1 auditorium could hardly be better proportioned, with its steep terraced seating and wide rectangular stage, and successfully turns normally placid audience into screaming spectator by the end of the production.

‘The Bee’, Bethany, straight out of prison, but on a path to redemption, surely one of the finest characters I’ve seen on stage all year. With characteristic buzzing menace, a defensive boulder, combined with hilarious quick-step dance routines, but also with the lion’s share of killer one-liners, Hannah Jarrett-Scott, is phenomenal.

Rising star Chloe-Ann Tylor also turns in an eye-catching performance as stoic team captain, Jo. Always focused and dominant in front of her ‘team’ but with plenty of demons in her locker.

Photo: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Around this totemic pair Louise Ludgate, Kim Allan and Hiftu Quasem maintain their own orbits, and their own problems. Ludgate’s portrayal of a wine-quaffing, middle-class abandoned wife, is a plea to remember that loneliness can be just as devastating as any other affliction. In her eventual odd-couple friendship with the bee comes a unlikely redemption and affirmation. Allan is very believable as anxiety-filled single mum, Sammy, trying so hard to balance her loyalty to the team, against the needs of her young children. Nifty footed dribbler, Quasem completes the roster, as Noor, the ‘baby’ of the team, pulled in different directions by peer pressure from her teenage ‘friends’ and caring for her ailing Nana.

From the first moments, accompanied by a pumping high tempo sound track, the Bee buzzing around cajoling, threatening or encouraging audience members to join the five on stage, ‘Ye here for the trials, aye? C’mon!, and the ensuing hilarious improv. training session, this gets everything just about perfect.

In a show which was never meant to be polished or perfect, but more a reflection of real life, the ferocious energy of this piece drives it forward at such a pace that the ninety minutes fly by under the assured direction of Bryony Shanahan.

As Team Scotland finally take to the pitch to Flower Of Scotland the full house audience naturally rise to belt it out with them. A play that plays on the deep-rooted Scottish psych of always being and always supporting the underdog, on or off the pitch, brilliantly conceived, written and performed. Well done!

Playing until 23rd December,

Reviewer: Greg Holstead

Reviewed: 13th December 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.