Review: Elton John's Glasses: Queen's Theatre: A world away from the premier league

WEST END theatre has been quietly fretting about the World Cup and its potential effect on audiences. It must have seemed a fine idea to catch the mood of the times and put on a play about football.

The premise for Elton John's Glasses is the ingenious fantasy that Watford were defeated by Everton in the 1984 Cup Final because a shaft of sunlight struck the Watford vice-president's gigantic spectacles and the reflection blinded the Watford goalkeeper.

For those with academic interest in either football or theatre it should be pointed out that Elton John actually sported untypically small lenses that day, so the writer David Farr has used dramatic and sporting licence.

But then football drama is never really about football. Fever Pitch and An Evening with Gary Lineker used football as a metaphor for the characters', even the authors', own lives and relationships.

Elton John's Glasses certainly does the sex, soccer and sadness genre few favours. Its plot is a series of increasing implausibilities. Bill (Brian Conley) watches the 1984 goal on continuous video loop and 12 years later is so traumatised he has not left his house for years. His long- lost brother persuades him to do so by uttering something along the lines of why not go outside.

It is surprising to find Farr, well respected in London theatre, and director Terry Johnson, a farceur of note, behind this lumbering comedy. Conley, Will Keen as his brother and Gabrielle Glaister as the paramour manage to invest a depth of feeling and sadness which the script does not deserve.

Not even a premier league cast can rescue a second division play.

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