Theatre review: Marching On Together at Old Red Lion Theatre

Marching On Together

Marching On Together - Credit: Archant

Adam Hughes’s tale of football hooliganism is a brutal yet honest soccer production, finds Emily Govan.

Marching on Together is a play by Adam Hughes that takes us straight back to the height of the football season in 1984. The setting is Leeds, and it’s carnage. West Yorkshire miners are on strike and football hooliganism is rife, with bitter battles being fought on both the picket line and the touchline.

Macca, ex-leader of the notorious Service Crew, is released from prison into a Leeds he no longer recognises. With his crew disbanded and settled down with their wife and kids, a younger generation have taken up his violent mantle defending the mighty Whites. Meanwhile, his wife and son seem to have moved on in their lives, and with political issues and miners on strike, there is very little work about. Now, more than ever, Macca needs the firm to give him a sense of purpose. This is no longer just about fighting for Leeds, now he is fighting for survival.

It’s a brutal yet honest play that takes us inside the fascinating world of football hooliganism. The name of the game here is winning the fight, not the football score.

Joshua McTaggert’s direction is frenetic and charged, and there are lively and fast-paced performances from the actors throughout. Adam Patrick Boakes is sympathetic as loyal Macca, who faces his demons in taking on a father figure role to young, impressionable miner Tommy (Joshua Garwood). Alex Southern is fantastic as Nathan, the bullying and preening new leader of the hooligans.

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Meanwhile the sparse set of corrugated iron and the ‘80s songs which accompany each set change bring the gritty play to life.

Football has changed a lot since the days of Marching on Together and this play is a reminder of a not so distant part of our past that many would rather forget.

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Rating: 4/5

Emily Govan

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