Comedy scores at the New Wolsey

Jumpers for Goalposts at the New Wolsey, Ipswich, until October 17 (l-r) Geoff (Andy Rush), Viv (Viv

Jumpers for Goalposts at the New Wolsey, Ipswich, until October 17 (l-r) Geoff (Andy Rush), Viv (Vivienne Gibbs), Danny (Jamie Samuel) - Credit: Archant

Jumpers for Goalposts, by Tom Wells, a Paines Plough, Hull Truck and Watford Palace Theatre production at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, until October 17.

Jumpers for Goalposts at the New Wolsey, Ipswich, until October 17. Philip Duguid-McQuillan plays Lu

Jumpers for Goalposts at the New Wolsey, Ipswich, until October 17. Philip Duguid-McQuillan plays Luke - Credit: Archant

At Wembley, England were playing Poland in a crunch World Cup Qualifier at Wembley. At Portman Road, Ipswich, the England under 21s were playing Lithuania and crucially, a five minute walk away, at the New Wolsey Theatre, there was an end of season five-a-side clash between Barely Athletic and Tranny United.

I am confident there were more laughs in the last of those fixtures even though the England results were better.

Jumpers for Goalposts is ostensibly about the worst side in a gay and lesbian footie league. Barely Athletic comprises three gay men, one lesbian and a “token straight”. Viv, the coach (Vivienne Gibbs), has a tough challenge getting her team to gel... or shower. Her despairing team talks in the drab dressing room (you can almost smell it) are comedy gold.

The cast of five has an energy, pace and abundant talent their football team spectacularly lacks.


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But it’s really a love story; a romance that playwright Tom Wells’ peerless writing never allows to tip over into simpering sentimentality.

Each Wells’s oddball characters is beautifully drawn, hugely loveable and wonderfully well written; no self-indulgence, just honesty with a gloriously rich vein of humour that had the rapt Wolsey audience often laughing out loud and sometimes moved.

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The comic possibilities are explored with affection. From young Luke’s tendency to rush at a sentence, stop and start again, to Geoff’s fierce attachment to his hat with tassels that puts him at risk of unorthodox tackles on the pitch.

Yes, it’s adult and the language is strong but it is not contrived. The dialogue and action rattles along so naturally you almost feel you are eavesdropping.

Quite brilliant.

• Jumpers For Goalposts is recommended for ages 14+

LYNNE MORTIMER

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