Theatre Review: Total Football at the Barbican

A Wayne Rooney rap and the beautiful game are brought to the stage in TOTAL FOOTBALL – a satisfying score draw at the Barbican.

Football haters: don’t be turned off by the title of this short two-man show, which lasts twenty minutes less than a match, with no half time.

London-based touring company Ridiculusmus returns to the Barbican with a funny, unconventional examination of Britishness arising from attempts to put a Team GB soccer squad together for London 2012.

The task falls to Brian, an “enthusiastic bureaucrat” from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), who can’t for the life of him fathom why five hundred million people are passionate about “men kicking a bag of air around.” For Brian, the beautiful game’s basically “twenty-two millionaires ruining a lawn”. But DCMS sees the Games as an opportunity to unite the nation behind a common goal.

Authors David Woods and Jon Haynes play several characters including a hilarious soon-to-retire Sir Alex Ferguson. Their top notch impersonations have a hotchpotch of influences – Yes Minister, Monty Python and Buster Keaton spring to mind for starters.


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The play opens with an exhilarating football dance/Wayne Rooney-rap-routine. Unfortunately, the dialogue doesn’t always maintain the same energy, and several of the jokes barely merited howls and shrieks of laughter from some in the crowd when I was there.

Total Football’s a satisfying score draw but didn’t fill me with the euphoria of, say, a Germany 1-England 5 result, despite showing great promise.

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* Showing at the Barbican in Silk Street, EC2, until Saturday, June 18.

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