Review: Sing Yer Heart Out For The Lads

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

The cast and production team of Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads, should be incredibly proud of their show. Reading the director’s note, it was shocking to discover that both cast and crew were mostly first-timers! Directed by Moyo Atteh, the play takes place at the King George pub, where a group of regulars comes to watch the 2000 World cup qualifying game between England and West Germany. The play focuses upon the relationships between these Londoners and echo’s real-life conversations about race and identity, and the importance of having these conversations together. The actors exquisitely share the story with the audience in a very intimate way, which is complimented by with a wonderfully detailed set and thoughtful direction.

The entire play is set in a pub and it is clear that no detail was left out when it came to set design. A beautiful bar sits upstage right steals the attention, The set was built by hand by stage manager and assistant producer Toby Wesselingh. Behind it was a wall with multiple bottles of alcohol and a few pictures and posters, which had clearly been there for a while adding to the authenticity of the pub. The rest of the stage is dotted with alcohol kegs as tables and old mismatched wooden chairs and a pool table. Downstage left is a typical dirty pub bathroom, complete with names of the characters on the wall behind it — it really felt that the locals never left! The set successfully represents a typical British pub, which only enhances the naturalistic performance from the actors.

The actors exquisitely share the story with the audience in a very intimate way, which is complimented by with a wonderfully detailed set and thoughtful direction

What brings this set to life however is the performance from each actor. The play opens with the family who own the pub. who plays Gina, a no-nonsense mum who runs the pub, injects the stage with energy! She gives a phenomenal performance that is incredibly naturalistic; she successfully translates to the audience the years of experience and time she has spent in the pub and there is a distinct sense of character. 

When it comes to the lights, the stage is mostly lit in general wash, however there were moments when this becomes focused on certain parts of the stage. At times the transitions were slightly slow, distracting from the show as it left a longer a pause between the action than is necessary.

The relationships between all the characters, were fantastically performed by the entire cast. Whether these be amid friends, mother and child, siblings or enemies, each one was pure and convincing. Each relationship had its ups and downs, and great timing and tonal changes from every actor guaranteed that these were communicated successfully to the audience. As the relationships feel so honest, you instantly understand the history behind all the characters, adding a wonderful depth to the whole play. With a large number of actors on stage, at times the blocking makes the stage feel crowded and leaves forgotten space which slightly took away from the flow of the piece, however, this is only a minor point.

This play is definitely one to remember and hope more DST plays can be just like it

The way in which the cast worked as an ensemble to create the excitement and intense atmosphere whilst watching a football game is effortless! The dialogue bounces around the stage and every mannerism is thoroughly thought through. They paint such a realistic picture of the match, It feels as if you are watching the TV with them! In fact, watching the play, it feels as if you are in the pub with all the characters. This is done through brilliant direction from Atteh. Actors enter from behind the audience at times, screaming football chants and marching down the stairs! This burst of energy drew the audience in and creates a sense of inclusion. Lamesha Ruddock, who plays Barry, enters this way with an infectious energy. She gives a marvellous and incredibly moving performance throughout the play and, she keeps the spirit and excitement of watching a football match alive! 

Overall, the standout element of the play is the way in which the cast work together. They beautifully pace the entire show, nailing the comedic lines but also mastering the emotionally heavy scenes, making this play a very moving watch. Commendations need to be passed onto and who took on roles so close to the performance and to the actors who were so committed in the rehearsal process but were unable to make the performance. This play is definitely one to remember and hope more DST plays can be just like it. 

Image credit: Blizzard Theatre Company

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