Kevin Keegan once said of the people from the North East of England ‘For them it’s a bit like people down south going to the theatre. They want to see something that’s worth seeing’. Through The Red Lion, Patrick Marber has married both in a uniquely metaphorical way. Set at an unspecified semi professional football club playing in the Northern League, this three hander explores how the most popular sport in the world can be influenced by conflicting British values which continue to divide the country in which it is based.

Yates (John Bowler) a club legend and voluntary kitman, represents loyalty, heart and principal. You can’t take your eyes off of this performance. The antithesis to the idealist Yates is the club’s manager Kidd (Stephen Tompkinson) who personifies all of what is wrong with modern football - greed, disloyalty and vanity. Their battle comes to the fore via the emergence of hot prospect Jordan played with great intensity by Dean Bone. As the two older men try to steer the younger man in different directions we are shown the ugly side of success and what it means to climb up the greasy pole.

The script is sharp and doesn’t require a knowledge of the game to keep up. The set is simple yet authentic and the small size of the Trafalgar Studio 2 means the audience really feels as though they are in the room. The direction is good from Max Roberts and allows the romanticism underpinning Kevin Keegan’s most famous quote ‘I will love it. Love it if we beat them.’ to resonate throughout The Red Lion. Marber uses his experience of being on the board at Lewes FC as a symbol of Britain’s battle of ideals where, ultimately, the young bear the brunt of the fallout.
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