MusicalNorth East & YorkshireReview

Atalanta Forever – Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield

Reviewer: Ray Taylor

Writer: Amanda Whittington

Director: Marianne McNamara

The multi-award-winning Mikron Theatre Company’s mission is to deliver professional theatre to people’s doorsteps in relaxed environments. They love to explore Britain’s heritage and tell stories about uniquely British things, producing plays with a social conscience. This present production about the fight for women’s football is all the more poignant for being performed in the open air courtyard of a theatre in the heart of Huddersfield, a town which saw its very own women’s team Atalanta AFC rub shoulders with the finest teams of the day back in the 1920s.

It is a joy to see live theatre performed in the flesh again and with such enthusiasm and exuberance. The use of a small conventional stage, regular changes of costume and the clever interplay of multiple characters are all effectively done. The whole Company deserves enormous credit for putting on such an entertaining and thought-provoking show in a very evocative setting. Whilst generally the acoustics are good, given the open-air nature of the venue and the occasional drawback of passing traffic perhaps the wearing of radio mikes would be an advantage (although the necessity to constantly change costumes may preclude this?).

The show contains a number of original songs written and composed by Kieran Buckeridge and Amanda Whittington under Musical Director Rebekah Hughes. These songs range from the opening Rules of the Game with its catchy chorus to the heartfelt I Raise My Motley Cap, an elegy to the fallen of the Great War, to the winsome I’m Me, a summing up of just what it means for a woman to be able to express herself through playing football.

The four actors – Rachel Benson (Ethel), Thomas Cotran, James McLean and Elizabeth Robin (Annie) – are all extremely talented and hard-working, not only acting (the two males playing a variety of roles), singing the above songs (and more) and playing a variety of musical instruments but also having to contend with noisy passing traffic and even selling raffle tickets at the beginning. The play explores the birth and fight for women’s football in the context of post-World War One Britain, the plight of conscientious objectors, the social upheaval of the times, women’s suffrage. It’s fun and clever and educational too. You will likely learn a lot and may be interested enough to find out more about the development of women’s football which today we take for granted but which has its roots in these pioneers of the 1920s. Look out for future productions of the Mikron Theatre Company near you.

On tour until 19th September 2021

The Reviews Hub Score

A Winning Performance

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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