Cambridge Theatre, London WC2
Opened 26 September, 2000; reviewed October, 2000

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton's "football and Northern Irish Troubles" musical is at bottom self-satisfied, patronising tripe.

Lloyd Webber's score tends towards the poppy rather than the grandiose, and affects to work in Irish cadences and arrangements; the performers even sing in almost-tolerable Ulster accents. Elton's lyrics are at times interestingly fibrous, but more often are simply Ben Elton lyrics. As for the narrative... "love across the barricades" has been a cliché of drama in my Northern Irish homeland for long enough to have been repeatedly lampooned, but here it comes again, together with the hackneyed topics of young promise destroyed, hearts hardened as the conflict draws in its next generation and the "we're here because we're here" pointlessness of it all. For every moment of insight or inspiration, there are quarter-hours which alternate blithe trivialisation and plonking sententiousness. The writers should be applauded for tackling the subject in such a form; unfortunately, they should then be pelted with rotten fruit for what they've actually done with it.

Written for

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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