REVIEW: He Shoots! He Scores! A Musical With Balls (Above The Stag) ★★★★

Above The Stag, the UK’s only full time professional LGBT theatre, scores another hit with ‘He Shoots! He Scores! A Musical With Balls!

We follow Joe as he relocates to London and joins a gay football team, the Hercules Harriers. The fun and frivolity that follow as they enter, what they think, is a gay international football tournament is nothing short of comedy genius.

The first thing that strikes you about this production is the extremely clever use of the staging and set. A green football pitch felt that runs from the floor up on to the stage wall gives the instant impression that this show is somewhat different to the usual high camp comedy that Above The Stag produces.

That being said as soon as the show starts we realise that this is going to be a rib-tickling, laugh-a-minute production full of camp characters, savage one-liners and all the drama of a ‘Footballers Wives’ omnibus!

Press Night came 3 nights into the run of the show. Keeping that in mind you could see the cast were still nervous in places, hadn’t quite found their footing in terms of pace and rhythm and clearly hadn’t had such a raucous and responsive audience to date.

The choreography by Carole Todd is creative and dynamic and uses the limited space in an effective way. Direction by Robert McWhir is clean and crisp and he clearly has a knack for creating a thriving and exciting atmosphere for the audience whilst working in a very intimate space.

There are some outstanding performances in this show. Jamie Barwood, playing Joe, delivers a fantastic performance and avoids playing into the stereotype whilst driving the plot and one of the romantic story lines.

Tayzr, played by Duncan Burt, on the other hand is completely at home playing a stereotypical camp queen and although OTT at times he delivers some fantastic comedy one liners that really had the audience laughing from the pit of their stomachs.

Andrew Cannon and Tom Mann have a great story line and bring us some moments of sincerity and tenderness and have a great bond on stage both delivering strong performances.

‘He Shoots! He Scores! A Musical With Balls!’ isn’t afraid of tackling this masculine issue in a very light hearted and camp way that works extremely well for this production.

There are some moments that represent some of the attitudes towards gay men in sports and due to the light-hearted nature of the show these are genuinely shocking and you could hear the audience gasp. These moments bring a serious message to remind us that the LGBT community still has along way to go in the world of sport.

This show maybe isn’t as strong as others that have been staged recently at Above The Stag but the comedy one-liners, camp characters and hilarious on stage moments are some of the funniest I’ve seen this year and make it well worth a visit.

Reviewed by Matthew Andrew Wren