Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
August, 2000

In 1992, Dublin company The Passion Machine brought to Edinburgh a play called Studs, about a no-hope soccer team. West of Ireland companies Yew Tree and Island evoke a similar atmosphere in this account of the amateur Munster team's historic 12-0 victory over the All Blacks in Limerick on Hallowe'en 1978.

The rugby scenes themselves are fairly Godberesque, but frankly there aren't that many ways you can show on a stage. The cast of six (including one woman) switch rapidly but without confusion between the Irish and Kiwi teams, the crowd, a bunch of Limerick kids building a bonfire for that night, a woman giving birth, and Munster captain Donal Canniffe's father, who died at home whilst listening to the (untelevised) match on the radio.

John Breen's writing and direction keep matters lively throughout a playing time only slightly longer than the match itself, and although the subject matter may seem on the parochial side, the human interest and David-and-Goliath aspects ensure a more than agreeable time.

Written for the Financial Times Web site,

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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