‘Result‘ at the Pleasance Theatre, Islington, is the latest offering from Sketty Theatre whose previous productions have included ‘Imogen’, ‘Tom’s’ and ‘Feral’.
The production is billed as ‘A powerful new play that explores the emotion behind every kick’, and a powerful emotional and witty kick is indeed what the audience gets. The story centers around a group of young footballers facing their final months in a youth training academy and how they deal with the pressures of gaining a contract. They are introduced to a new sports psychologist (Marc) whose aim is to help them cope mentally with the challenges that competitive sport brings. We are invited into a world that is tough on the young footballers. They are consistently berated by their coach Carl (played by Cameron Jack) and pushed to their physical limits. In contrast Marc, the psychologist, is more concerned with helping the footballers cope when plan A, getting a contract, doesn’t work out. It is refreshing to see the bravery of co-directors, and writers, Alex and Toby Clarke (who also happen to be brothers) as they tackle mental health issues within football, and probably more widely, in competitive sport.
The story itself is well formed and the ideas that have been created in consultation with a Premier League Youth Training Academy and their Consultant Sports Psychologist are effective in delivering the intended message.
The production is hard hitting at times, particularly towards the end of Act 2, but it is also witty and inventive. There is an incredibly natural feel to the play and this is to the full credit of the co-directors/writers. The dialogue sits naturally in each of the characters and there are plenty of seeds planted in the text early that come to fruition as the play concludes.
One of the most impressive elements of this production is the physical theatre pieces created by Fionn Cox-Davies. Each time the young footballers engage in a match we are treated to a highly skilled display of movement, combining recognisable football moves alongside more aerial displays. There is also a highly effective use of slow motion in these sections that, despite a few wrong foots, really added to the drama of the ‘game’.
The cast are all equally strong in helping tell this important story but there are some standouts. Cameron Jack, who plays Carl the coach, creates a bullish, single minded and foul mouthed character that goes on as much of a discovery as the young footballers.
Richard James-Clarke, as sport psychologist Marc, is most definitely the Yang to Mr Jack’s Ying. Here we have a warm, funny and at times, emotional portrayal. In fact one of my favourite scenes, early in act 1 when Marc meets the young footballers, is a great example of this, filled with witty dialogue commanded with great ease by Mr James-Clarke. Out of the young footballers Joel Phillimore (playing Tich) stood out most.
Desperate for some contact with his mother and clearly feeling alone there is a quiet sadness that runs through Mr Phillimore’s performance. There is a lovely sense of ensemble about the play. The cast bounce of each other really well and there are even some impressive football skills on display. At times the dialogue doesn’t reach out into the auditorium far enough, and being half way up I did have to strain to catch all of the dialogue, even then missing some bits. Some of the characters are also under used and left unexplored. I understand why this is. The issue at hand is more important and the characters are merely vehicles for this to ride on, but it does leave the audience feeling slightly disconnected at times.
Result is both witty and thought-provoking in equal measures. Does it provide the answers to mental well-being within sport? No, and neither should it try. What it does do though is leave the audience with plenty to think about.
Review by Matt Elliot
Result is a powerful new play that explores the emotion behind every kick; a world in which dreams are built or destroyed in ninety minutes. A world in which the score means everything and failure is not an option. Where physical strength is celebrated but mental health is often ignored.
Inspired by the career of a professional sports psychologist, Sketty Theatre crosses raw text and striking movement with an original score to explore the cut-throat passion, raucous camaraderie and frightening pressures of the beautiful game.
21st April to 17th May 2015
Press night: 23 April
Tuesday to Saturday: 7.30pm
Saturday matinee: 2.00pm
020 7609 1800