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'Red Pitch' Stages Winning Replay @Sohoplace

To paraphrase ex-Liverpool manager Bill Shankley, ‘some people think football is life and death – I can assure you it’s much, much more important than that’.

Theatre-goers are flocking to see ‘Red Pitch’ at London’s @sohoplace, some thinking it’s a play about football.

I can assure you, it’s much, much more important than that.

Playwright Tyrell Williams draws on his direct experience of growing up on south London’s Aylesbury Estate, and the significance of the caged ‘red pitch’ marked up for football, marked out for demolition and regeneration.

It’s 90-minutes of high energy, high intensity performance from three outstanding actors, Kedar Williams Stirling (best known for his role in Sex Education) as Bilal, Emeka Sesay (Top Boy) as Joey and Francis Lovehall as Omz (soon to be seen in Disney + A Thousand Blows).

There’s nowhere to hide on this stage. All three are hugely charismatic, likeable and their friendship feels honest and credible – a real credit to the production’s casting team.

As keen Sunday league ‘ballers’ they’ve got a common language and keen ambition, to be picked up at trials by London club Queen’s Park Rangers. But that’s just the spine of the 16-year olds’ stories.

‘Red Pitch’ in @sohoplace’s intimate venue gets you off the sidelines and directly into the action with stories of young carers, ‘could have been a contender’ parents offering to manage their son’s careers, relationships, social media, housing, partying, religion, community, friendship, resilience and respect.

And Daniel Bailey’s direction enhances Williams’ script throughout.

Respect isn’t just something to talk about: it’s evidenced in the players’ ritual tapping in and out of the space, in picking up your Twix and Sunpride juice wrappers after a game.

So why is it much, much more important than a play? ‘Red Pitch’ is, like ‘Standing At The Sky’s Edge’ just up the road, about the demise of a housing estate and its communities.

Its perspective, though, is unique and should open up theatre to a whole new audience who will see themselves and their lives reflected on stage. Earlier sell-out, multi-award winning runs at the Bush Theatre attest to that.

And for ‘traditional’ theatregoers, ‘Red Pitch’ offers fresh writing and perspective – the thrill of something new and a cast and writer delivering excellence, but all with the promise of blossoming into outstanding.

As for creating coherent communities? I left the play clutching my programme, spotted by two other audience members on the tube and spent a long Northern Line journey earnestly chatting about what the play meant to us all on so many levels.

A reflection of ‘Red Pitch’ really – you’ll arrive at the theatre as a stranger and leave thinking you’ve made friends.

Please be aware that ‘Red Pitch’ contains strobe lighting, flashing effects and loud noise for very short, dramatic effect.

‘Red Pitch’ runs until May 4, with a Relaxed Performance on April 13 (3:00pm), Audio Described performance on April 17 (3:00pm), BSL performance on April 16 (7:30pm) and Captioned Performance on Wednesday May 1 (7:30pm).

To book and for full access information visit





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