Red Ladder Theatre Company and Leeds Playhouse presents The Damned United, which comes to York Theatre Royal on 16th June.
The show, written by Anders Lustgarten, has been adapted from the successful David Peace novel. It’s a critically acclaimed theatre production charting Brian Clough’s disasterous 44-day period as manager of Leeds United.
Rod Dixon directs the play, with set design by Nina Dunn, lighting design by Tim Skelly and sound design by Ed Heaton. It’s certainly a talented creative team and I’ve always heard fantastic things about the production so I’m excited to finally be able to see it!
It is set in 1974. Brian Clough tries to redeem his managerial career and reputation by winning the European Cup with his new team Leeds United. The team he has openly despised for years, the team he hates and which hates him. Even if you’re not a great football fan, you’re sure to enjoy the fascinating story. It takes audiences inside Brian Clough’s mind as he’s slammed up against his limits.
The Damned United is performed by a cast of three: Luke Dickson (Brian Clough), David Chafer (Peter Taylor) and Jamie Smelt (Sam Longson/Syd Owen/Jack Kirkland et al). In a gripping and dynamic staging of the much-loved book, audiences are taken up close to the sweat, fury and power struggles from pitch-side.
Rod Dixon, artistic director of Red Ladder, says “As a story The Damned United has it all – passion, power struggles, tragedy and a classic anti-hero in Clough – which lends itself brilliantly to theatre. Anders’ adaptation captures the grit, poetry and darkness of David Peace’s writing, and by charting the fall of Brian Clough and exposing what made ‘Old Big ‘ed’ tick, audiences are given a fascinating insight into the troubled but brilliant mind of a flawed genius –who to this day, remains one of the most controversial figures in sporting history.”
In another beautiful element to the story, the rights for The Damned United were donated by David Peace to Red Ladder Theatre Company for £3.68 – a penny for each page in the novel – as a show of support for the Leeds-based theatre company when it received a 100% cut to Arts Council Funding. Peace himself says, “Football itself, at every level, is drama, theatre and spectacle played out before a living, breathing and usually very partisan audience; this is what Anders, Rod and everybody involved brought to the story which neither the book nor the film could do.”
The show comes to York Theatre Royal on 16th June for one night only.
Image courtesy of York Theatre Royal