Thursday, 28 November 2013

Re-review: Jumpers for Goalposts

If Jumpers for Goalposts was worth travelling all the way to Watford for when if first opened - you can read a brief synopsis in my original review here - Shepherds Bush is certainly not too far to go for a repeat visit, as Tom Wells' play arrives in London triumphant after a national tour. I've been recommending this play left right and centre (forward) since I heard it would be coming to the Bush, and it seems I've not been the only one because the run had almost sold out and been extended long before performances here even started. If you weren't one of the people who took that advice the first time round, get in there quick now while there's a few dates still available, because a repeat visit only confirms what a little gem of a show this is, and a more intimate space only improves the experience.

James Grieve's production has retained all its original cast, who've grown in their roles - and speaking of growing, Andy Rush had just come out of another show when this premiered in Watford so his character Beardy Geoff's facial shrubbery was a mere shadow of what it's become by the end of the tour. Geoff's joyfully unkempt style is a great example of how Wells' characters defy stereotype - the person closest in behaviour to a cliché‎ of a bed-hopping gay man, whose appearance is the total opposite to what you might expect.

There's so much subtlety to enjoy in Jamie Samuel and Philip Duguid-McQuillan's burgeoning romance as Danny and Luke, tiny looks of longing and awkwardness that make them come to life and bring the audience totally on-side; this was the quality that made me compare the play to Beautiful Thing in its ability to tell a gay love story that didn't feel remotely niche. But we can't forget Vivienne Gibbs and Matt Sutton, whose storyline as in-laws grieving for the dead woman they had in common is the "B" plot compared to Danny and Luke, but still packs an emotional punch and holds its own in the scenes dedicated to it,

On a first viewing I said that Jumpers for Goalposts wasn't quite as good as The Kitchen Sink, Wells' earlier play at the Bush which I named my third favourite show of 2011; I'm not so sure now, as this play stuck with me long after I'd seen it, many individual lines and scenes standing out and making me smile. The playtext programme I got in April was a good investment as I enjoyed re-reading scenes like Luke's second reading from his diary, where he includes the bits he'd previously edited out. That scene ends with a line that's simultaneously hilarious, moving and quite inappropriate in all kinds of ways - nicely representative of everything this play does, and a reason I think it's likely to do even better than its predecessor when I look back on my highlights of 2013.

Jumpers for Goalposts by Tom Wells is booking until the 4th of January at the Bush Theatre.

Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes straight through.

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