Head of Content Keith Ingham talks about his experience watching the theatrical adaptation of The Damned United.
Many people have seen the adaptation of David Peace's acclaimed book 'The Dammed United' either at the cinema or TV. It is a part-fictional account of Brian Clough's forty four day tenure at Leeds United.
When the chance to see it 'up close and personal' at the West Yorkshire Playhouse came knocking, it was a performance I couldn't miss, so myself and Jon Barrett didn't.
The actors that played in the play are Andrew Lancel as Clough, Tony Bell as Peter Taylor, John Graham Davies as Longston/ Syd Owen/ Bolton, Tom Lorcan as Duncan McKenzie and Tony Turner as Manny Cousins/Jack Kirkland.
The play also had masked actors doing the choreography, wearing Derby County and Leeds shirts. You may have seen Tony Bell, Tony Turner and Andrew Lancel walk down the cobbles of a well known 'soap' set in Cheshire.
It starts where Clough's career playing career ended, in a heap, in the mud berated by an opposition player for faking injury. The narration is done by Peter Taylor, the 'knowledge' behind the manager. It takes us through his start as a Sunderland youth trainer to Hartlepool manager to his start at Derby, brilliantly acted by Bell and Lancel.
It mixes this with his introduction at Leeds United, his loathing of anything the great Don Revie did or stood for stands out and is superbly acted by Andrew Lancel as Clough.
Separated from his right hand man we see the struggles he has with both players and the hierarchy at Leeds. His drinking increases but his self belief never wanes, remember this was Brian Howard Clough. A brilliant cameo performance by Graham Davies as Syd Owen, dark humour at it's finest.
As we know Clough took Derby from a lowly second division team to the Champions of England, akin to what Don Revie did with Leeds. In the play, Clough sees the ex-Leeds supremo as everything he hated in football but grudgingly he respects the great man and Taylor sees that his friend is becoming what he despises.
The passing of Clough's mother sees the dark clouds surround the man and his insecurity shows and the fall out with Taylor is very dramatic and again well acted. These men bound by football and a love for each other, again shows throughout the play.
We know the end is nigh and Clough's arrogance when receiving his 'payoff' from Leeds shows that his confidence in himself as a manager never dwindled. The interview after his sacking with Clough on the stage and Revie on the backdrop is superb and was one of the highlights for me, I've loved this interview since I saw it as a spotty teenager. David versus Goliath, but this time the tables turned. Clough left to reflect on what had gone before, arms spread at the end still believing he was simply the best manager ever.
I'm no theatre goer, but maybe I should be because the talent that graced the West Yorkshire Playhouse on Wednesday 30th March made me wonder why I've not come a lot sooner.
A superb play, fantastically acted and directed, I bow my head to you all.
By Keith Ingham
Many thanks to Malcolm Johnsin who supplied the wonderful photos for this article. To view his work, visit him on Twitter @malcij or online at http://malcijphotography.co.uk
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