Up 'n' Under, Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh

Michael Coveney
Friday 13 August 2010 00:00
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With Abi Titmuss cast as a gym instructor in a play whose title might suggest some full-on, raunchy locker-room action, it's almost disappointing to report that Abi's a model of rectitude, not e-rectitude, in John Godber's charmingly naive 1984 rugby league fable.

She handles the balls pretty well, which you'd expect, but she dispatches Godber's mock Shakespearean Chorus speeches pretty well, too.

And she even remarks that an unexpected win for the team she's training up would amount to "a tabloid dream," without any ironic reference to herself. It gets worse, lads: she frowns primly at a suggestion that team bonding might best continue in the shower room.

Said team is a bunch of losers in the Wheatsheaf Arms, taken up by a former professional player (William Ilkley), who bets his mortgage on getting them good and ready to beat the high-flying Cobblers in a sevens competition in five weeks' time.

One of the abiding mysteries of Godber's play is that the Wheatsheaf only fields six players for the sevens: that is, the fat butcher, the car mechanic, the fireman who wants to be a stripper (Robert Angell, "Hunter" in Gladiators), the ageing teacher – plus Abi and the new coach.

After a lot of skipping and huffing and puffing, the great day dawns and the balletic contest, not as astonishing as once it seemed, takes place. There's a good, bitter twist to the tale – but, as a rugby play, it's not a patch on David Storey's The Changing Room.

To 30 August (except 16) (0131 623 3030)

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