THEATRE / Neville Southall's Washbag - Finborough Arms, London

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The Independent Culture
In David Farr's odd, oblique but likeable comedy, grouchy hermit Bill is obsessed with the goal Norman Whiteside put past Neville Southall in the 1985 FA Cup, exploding the goalie's washbag in the back of the net. He watches it endlessly. His chair, TV and video are all he owns since a maverick charity worker stole everything from his flat. Farr's limited comic device is to have Bill's solitude invaded by catalytic types: his cocky brother with a nascent rock band in tow, his estranged lover (in flashback and the flesh), the loopy collector, and a woman who can play football blindfold.

These visits lead nowhere except to a growing sense of desperate humour as relationships decay. Farr's dialogue is a tailspin of reductive digression, with characters clinging to their perverse obsessions (the goal, world domination) and to their roles: the men are twitchy and attitudinising; the women odd and compliant. This can be viewed as either surreal comedy or hollow pretension, but Farr's claim to the former is helped immensely by a quirkily talented cast. As both writer and director, he somehow manages to make engaging a play in which virtually nothing happens or makes sense.

To 19 Dec (071-373 3842)

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