Phys Ed

4 Stars

****

In sporting competition the difference between success and failure is at its most acute in a Cup Final – elation for the winners and disappointment for the losers. Simon Carter’s play successfully catches this atmosphere. For many children the initial driving force in sport is to emulate their heroes and, if they have the talent, the ambition to triumph. Along the way, fate pitches against them rivals and this rivalry can become bitter and intense.

Neville Trellis as the P.E. teacher in a minor boarding school experiences such a journey. Robbed of the full enjoyment of triumph by a cruel injury as a youngster, he dedicates himself to success as the coach of his school’s rugby team. His twin-brother has gone on to national success as a member of the English national team but there is no conflict between the two brothers.

He does have an arch rival in the form of Smithers, a fellow P.E. teacher and coach of the most successful schoolboy rugby team in the country. They go back a long way because Smithers bullied Neville when they were both youngsters. As a P.E. teacher, Neville breaks the stereotypical image having something of a sensitive nature even if he is somewhat cocky about his handsome and well-honed appearance.

Nicholas Osmond’s performance as Neville is absorbing, both humorous and moving. He has a pacing and clarity of diction which effectively brings out the word pictures which the author has created. Neville’s hero, for example, is King Arthur played by Sean Connery which is a touch surreal.

The action leads to a Cup Final at Twickenham prior to an England v Scotland International between Neville’s team and Smithers team. Who will emerge victorious? Well, no answers from me on the final score but, only to say, there are surprising conclusions.

Reviewed by Ben

Assembly Hall/Baillie Room: 35

4 to 29 August 2011 (not 15)

16.15 – 17.15

Fringe Programme Page Number: 288

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