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Tractor girls at the Wolsey

PUBLISHED: 10:13 27 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:38 03 March 2010

Tractor Girls

Oxfordshire Touring Theatre Company

New Wolsey until March 30.



I'D IMAGINE the conversation prior to the arrival of this enjoyable play, in many homes in Suffolk, would have gone something like this: Bloke to long-suffering football widow: "Go out and get something nice, love, 'cos we going to the theatre.

Tractor Girls

Oxfordshire Touring Theatre Company

New Wolsey until March 30.

I'D IMAGINE the conversation prior to the arrival of this enjoyable play, in many homes in Suffolk, would have gone something like this: Bloke to long-suffering football widow: "Go out and get something nice, love, 'cos we going to the theatre." Long-suffering football widow: "Oh lovely! So what's it about?" "Town". "Oh."

But both sides of the Saturday afternoon divide would have taken something from this comedy with a political point.

If the attention of at least half the auditorium full of replica Blues shirts wasn't rapt by the opening bars of the Match of the Day theme tune, by the time the alluring Emily Wood as inventive Russian chambermaid Natalia jumped out of a cupboard in her bra and knickers, you could have heard a ITFC tie-pin drop.

The play followed Mo and Caz, ardent Tractor Girls, on their way to the UEFA away tie with Torpedo Moscow (a scenario that author David Holman had uncannily predicted before the competition had even started.)

Amid the Mafia-infested decadence of post-Communist Russia, bloodied corpses litter dodgy hotel rooms like so much pot pourri as Caz (India Fisher) is brought face to face with the runaway realities of life in the former Soviet Union.

Not so much harsh, believable realities as the general feel of the play, if somewhat intermittently, is very English and very farce, with the talented cast doubling up with admirable dexterity: a Fawlty Towers-type caper in the shadow of St Basil, if you like.

However, the plot seemed just a little thin, injected with much-needed verve by Clive Holland as the neurotic, passed-over deputy under manager Chekhov - an enfeebled Soviet comrade pining for the days when there was no freedom but everything was free. Confronted by another stiff, he wailed, darkly: "At least the KGB were discreet – they had the Lubyanka."

But Tractor Boy and Girl in-jokes too for the diehard fans crackled on the theatre turned terraces last night as the Town references past and present came thick and fast. For instance, the thought of the Kevin Beattie Breakfast Room was hilariously unappetising. Superbly versatile set, too.

Although it was all over a little too quickly (Kenneth Wolstenholme RIP), last night Tractor Girls brought home a diverting mix of football, theatre and politics. And the crowd went wild: 1-0 to the Tractor Girls (sung to the tune of the Soviet national anthem, of course.)

JAMES FRASER


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