This looked as cynical and predictable a move as James 'I’m here to revive my England career' Beattie kissing the badge of his latest club. Also you do have to wonder who the audience is for a musical about football running at 7.30pm during the World Cup, but hopefully it will be as big as the rather modest Tristan Bates Theatre can contain because this is really rather lovely stuff. Tight tunes, firm plot, solid at the back etc. The writers and (well chosen) cast have managed to take on a whole raft of clichés about the game and actually come up with something quite fresh, simple and moving.
Anchoring the story in the relationship between avid football fan father (Paul Pritchard) and his slightly estranged daughter (Yildiz Hussein) allows the football-related subject matter to slot around that, rather than any understanding of the game being pivotal to enjoyment of the piece. It has all the ingredients of family, passion, love and greed which revolve around the fortunes of City FC and how chief characters’ relationship has been affected by the club. How love will tear them apart, if you like.
Without wishing to drop into commentator speech too much (because no sentient being wishes to sound like Alan Green), they’ve avoided the offside trap and slipped some beautiful moves together. This could definitely do a job on a bigger stage- we were going to say it’s like watching Brazil but actually it’s rather better than that.
Who ate all the pies runs at the Tristan Bates Theatre, 1a Tower Street. WC2H 9NP until 26 June. Book tickets (£12/£10) here.