The Damned United - Theatre ☆☆☆3
Showing from - Thursday, April 7, 2016 through till Saturday, April 16, 2016
Derby Theatre - Derby
Dan Webber | Thursday, April 7, 2016
A very different crowd filled Derby Theatre on Thursday night. The usual theatre-going attire was replaced by football shirts and Derby County insignia as Brian Clough returned to Derby in The Damned United.
This is the first of serval performances of a new adaptation of David Peace's novel, written by Anders Lustgarten and directed by Rod Dixon.
The piece shifts back and forth in time between Clough’s rise and fall at Derby and his short lived stint as manager of ‘dirty’ Leeds UnitedFor me, this was the first time I’ve been to the venue and heard people react and respond to what’s happening on stage, discussing and reminiscing as if they were in the stands of the Baseball Ground on a Saturday afternoon. There were moments when the audience clapped and called out with pride as Ol’ Big Head himself put players and colleagues in their place.
To play Brian Clough on stage in Derby must be a daunting task for any actor but Andrew Lancel handles it masterfully, as does his counterpart Peter Taylor played by Tony Bell.
The piece, made famous by the book and film of the same name shifts back and forth in time between Clough’s rise and fall at Derby and his short lived stint as manager of ‘dirty’ Leeds United, or in Stephen Sondheim terms, ‘Merrily We Gaol Along’.
The set is a sparse affair with clever use of projection, a cheeky Jose Mourinho reference reminding us all of similar characters in today’s game, but it's the moments when Cloughie is alone which quite rightly steal the show, the loss of his mother an unashamedly emotional highlight.
The supporting cast, made up of young actors from around the area, bought a contemporary feel to the piece through physical theatre although I do wonder if the Subbuteo-style headgear was necessary.
All in all, The Damned United is a love letter to Derby County and its fans and a great opportunity for those who may not attend the theatre regularly to experience and enjoy a solid work and a slice of Derby’s rich history.
Come On You Rams.
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