Born Under A Bad Sign

August 13, 2022 | By More

★★★☆☆     Lively

theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39): Sat 6 – Fri 26 Aug 202
Review by Hugh Simpson

Born Under A Bad Sign, New Celts and Raw Toast’s evocation of male friendship and football, contains much to enjoy.

Four friends of under-achieving Invercreiff FC meet after every game to record a podcast, although the ties that have kept them together seem to be loosening.

Grant Ritchie, Lewis Aitken, Martin Mitchell and Jordan Kielty. Pic Raw Toast

The driving force behind the enterprise is Jordan Kielty’s Jez, only at home when thinking about football and only happy when he is miserable. Kielty gives him humorous liveliness as well as considerable light and shade.

Grant Ritchie’s Grant, who wants to break free from the small-town life, has a grounded feeling that is shared by Martin Mitchell’s Mark, who has succeeded in leaving for a nursing course. Lewis Aitken’s Luke has real comic gusto as well as hints of underlying sadness.

There is a real crackle between the friends as they perform their podcasts. If anything, the performances here are far too polished. They are far more assured and confident than the vast majority of such home-made efforts, and displaying such verve and comic brio that the makers would soon find themselves getting noticed.

The podcasts also seem to be mercifully short, while the play itself goes round in circles to an extent. Once the initial set-up has been established, the subsequent episodes tread water slightly. The filmed inserts of Ian Dunn as the team’s manager and Robyn Reilly as the interviewer, wonderfully novel at first, soon lose their sparkle.

sparkling dialogue

There is also the problem of using a subject matter that is familiar to so many. It is understandable for clarity that the team should be described as ‘third division’ rather than the more accurate ‘League One’ (ugh), but when the names of other real clubs and managers are used, it is odd that such realism is not carried through. For example, the resigned attitude to a mid-table finish, and the insistence that there is no difference between finishing fourth and fifth, is distinctly odd when fourth place would get you into the play-offs.

The sparkling dialogue makes up for this. The explorations of the relationship between football ‘banter’ and mental health may be a well-worn one, and some supposedly shocking revelations are clearly nothing of the sort, but there is a breezy feel to the exchanges which more than compensates.

Matthew Atwood’s direction is assured, and the eternal problems of representing sport on stage are elegantly done by writer and director.

This is one of those shows that exemplifies why a three-star review is definitely not a negative one. It just means – as it does here – that the result is what the company should be expected to making. It may not be earth-shattering, but it is thoroughly enjoyable, and full of promise.

Running time: One hour 5 minutes (no interval)
theSpace on the Mile (Space 3), 80 High St, EH1 1TH (Venue 39)
Saturday 6 – Friday 26 August 2022 (even dates only)
Even dates only: 17:10
Information and tickets: Book here.

Company website: https://www.rawtoastproductions.co.uk
Instagram: @rawtoastproductions
Facebook: @RawToastProductions
Twitter: @RawestOfToasts

Jordan Kielty , Grant Ritchie, Lewis Aitken and Martin Mitchel. Pic Raw Toast

ENDS

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