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13 April 2018 at 1:02 pm

The Damned United – “provided an audience wider than just football fans”

Article Author:
Edward Dixon

Down the stairs…
Along the corridor…
Round the corner…

Originally co-produced with the West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Damned United takes you inside the tortured mind of a genius slamming up against his limits, and brings to life the beauty and brutality of football, the working man’s ballet.

On the 10th of April Red Ladder Theatre Company brought this fantastic show to Lincoln Drill Hall – read below the glowing review from Kieran Scott, a student from University of Lincoln.



Having spent a large part of my life as an admirer and player of the game, I’ve had my fair share of foul-mouthed earfuls at half time. The corrugated metal backdrop and the football boots hung up in lockers brought back the intense anticipation of waiting patiently for arguably the most passionate, bursting fury one could ever be on the receiving end of. Such a beautifully dramatic performance is perfect for the stage. Tonight, the audience at The Lincoln Drill Hall felt the same anticipation, waiting in the locker room ready to be on the receiving end of arguably one of the most ruthless, yet triumphant managers to ever grace English football.

Brian Clough’s ruthless, demanding approach to football, and the way he dealt with his players was portrayed rigorously by Luke Dickson, and the deep hatred for Don Revie and his ‘Dirty, Dirty Leeds’ brought back feelings of nostalgia for those in the audience who witnessed the tense, rivalrous relationship during Clough’s career. This was particularly brought to attention towards the end of the play, when Dickson, playing Clough, recreated the famous interview with Revie in 1974, and the original video of Revie’s responses to Clough were projected onto the corrugated metal backdrop. The multimedia/live performance relationship was an extremely clever dramaturgical device that portrayed the tension of this event with such authenticity.

David Chafer also gave a wonderful performance as Clough’s right-hand man, Peter Taylor. Dickson and Chafer’s strong chemistry was vital for the embodiment of Clough and Taylor’s rollercoaster partnership: Clough’s occasional lack of compassion for Taylor, Taylor’s jealousy and sarcasm towards their pay and power difference, Taylor’s importance in grounding Clough when the charismatic character showed signs of self-absorption, the witty exchanges, the blood, sweat and the tears were all aspects that were represented clearly, even to those who weren’t otherwise aware of the rise and fall of this rich, compelling relationship.

Clough and Taylor’s pacey commentary on specific, important games during their journey were an engaging and appropriate way of driving the story line forward. This would’ve created the anticipation and excitement that one would experience during a top division game, if only the volume of the background cheering matched the energy of the actors. I believe at times the sound during the performance wasn’t loud enough, and therefore hindered the performers’ attempt at creating the intended passionate atmosphere that any football fan knows and loves. Although, this didn’t draw from the fact that Red Ladder Theatre, with The Damned United, have provided an audience wider than just football fans with an insight to one of the largest personalities football has ever seen, and his dedication and hunger for the game.


By Kieran Scott