Jumpers for Goalposts at Watford Palace Theatre.

In collaboration with Paines Plough, Watford Palace is putting on Tom Wells’ new play, Jumpers for Goalposts until the 20th of April. He is one of the most promising new playwrights to have emerged in recent years; you may recognise him from his recent successes The Kitchen Sink or Me, As A Penguin. I initially assumed Jumpers for Goalposts would not be for me; a play about five-a-side football…yeah, no thanks. But, I was pleasantly surprised; it wasn’t what I expected at all. If you want to see a production that will make you laugh and give you a lump in your throat then Jumpers for Goalposts is the production for you.

The plot revolves around the hapless five-a-side football team, Barely Athletic, who are competing against other five-a-side gay, lesbian and bisexual teams in the Hull Sunday League. Other team names comically include, Tranny United and Lesbian Rovers. All the action occurs post-match in Barely Athletic’s changing room, we see the relationships emerge between each character and come to learn their individual sorrows or joys. Phillip Duguid-McQuillan as Luke was hilarious to watch, fidgeting awkwardly on stage when around his ‘crush’, Danny, and continually walking into the door that says ‘Pull’. Similarly, Geoff or ‘Beardy’, played by Andy Rush puts on a touching performance as the woolly hat wearing busker, trying to find the perfect song to play on the Gay Pride march. He covers up his own recent pain (the victim of a gay bashing) by charmingly caring for and helping the other members of the team.

Love's awkward young dream.

Love’s awkward young dream.

All in all, the whole cast were great; Vivienne Gibbs plays the team’s coach, Viv, who was kicked out of Lesbian Rovers for being too bossy. Mark Sutton plays her brother-in-law, Joe, who is teased for being the unfit, token straight guy of the team. Whilst Jamie Samuel plays Danny, discretely coping with his illness and its impact on his feelings for Luke.

Admittedly, parts of the plot were predictable, and a bit cliché. Yet, as the play’s core is so tender and funny, you can’t help but like it and look past the obvious to what Wells has successfully created. He’s created a series of real and warm relationships between five people. On the surface it may seem like your average “rom-com” but it is much more than that, Wells has convincingly crafted real people, not just stereotypes.

Running from the 5th till the 20th of April. There isn’t long left of its run at Watford Palace, but it will be performed at the Hull Truck Theatre later on in the year.

Go here to buy tickets for Watford: http://www.watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk/page/jumpers-for-goalposts#-About