A Derby Theatre production as part of Derby CAN
Created by Jamie Thrasivoulou, in collaboration with fans and theatre makers from across the city
Directed by Sarah Brigham
Saturday 9th – Sunday 17th October, 2021
Who knew there were so many stage dramas on the subject of sport? Cricket has The Ashes by Michael Pinchbeck and The English Game by Richard Bean. Rugby entertains with Up ‘N Under, Broken Time and The Changing Room. Even cycling has three contenders with Beryl written by Maxine Peake, Ventoux by The 2Magpies Theatre and The Man with The Hammer by Phil Porter.
Nonetheless, it is football which comes out on top with stage plays and musicals such as Bend It Like Beckham, An Evening with Gary Lineker, The Beautiful Game, Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads and The Christmas Truce. The list goes on, including the Brian Clough themed Old Big ‘Ead in the Spirit of Man, which brings us neatly to the Derby-Nottingham football scene.
Right now, at Derby Theatre, there is a new pretender to the crown. Extra Time is a fusion of drama, live music, movement, spoken word and visual media, celebrating Derby County Football Club, its fans, and the city of Derby itself. Marking the 75th anniversary of the club’s FA Cup Final win in 1946, this winning formula has been created by Jamie Thrasivoulou in collaboration with fans and theatregoers across the city. As such, this is a production with real heart and authenticity.
Fans of the club informed the writing process as families of soldiers who fought in World War II, season ticket holders and even a couple who married on the touchline were amongst those interviewed. The Rams have devoted followers and their passion and loyalty shines through the writing. ‘Born as rams, live as rams. Rams ‘till death do us part,’ is their battle cry here.
The FA Cup Final 1946 is the thread that holds the play together. Young Lizzy (Anna-Kate Golding) and her grandfather Peter (Sean McKenzie) guide us through Derby’s cup run culminating in the final at Wembley Stadium. Along the way we meet characters in different guises, soldiers still traumatised by their wartime experiences, modern day fans, and even a John Gregory obsessive. If you don’t know who that is, don’t worry as Inês Sampaio (Angela, ensemble) will soon get you up to speed.
For this reviewer, the most engaging scenes are those looking back to 1946. The ones down at the local pub, ‘The Ram’s Head’ have a glow that shines like football floodlights. They are performed with warmth and energy by the cast which further includes John Booker (Giles), Jill Dowse (Jennifer), Danny Hendrix (Howard), Ivan Stott (J.T.) and writer Thrasivoulou as Stevie.
Post-war England is crippled by austerity. Lives have been lost, survivors shoulder guilt or sometimes shame, and the role of women has changed immeasurably. Derby County offers what is in short supply, namely ‘hope.’ The scenes between the orphaned Lizzy and her grandfather are both wistful and emotive.
When the crowd erupts at the 1946 final, you know that they are cheering not just for their team, but for the ones who are not there on the day, the lost ones, and the ones who came back broken. You root for the success of this team to give a boost to the town and its inhabitants, a reward for their loyalty and belief.
The set design by Emily Bestow is worth the price of a ticket alone. There is artificial turf, tiered seating, and ‘concrete’ stairs to replicate a football ground. This is swiftly changed to the pub when necessary and a giant football-shaped screen descends for interviews with current Derby fans and residents of the city.
Do you need to be a fan of football to enjoy Extra Time? Not necessarily. There is plenty to entertain and plenty to learn about the history and legacy of this Midland’s city and its club. You will certainly perceive the sense of family and community that imbues DCFC. Monologues and duologues reinforce that sense of solidarity. As we are told, ‘It’s the Derby way’ and the ‘Folk Theatre’ elements of song, dance, jokes, and tall tales make noticeably clear the trials and tribulations of being a lifelong fan.
The opening voiceover tells us that Derby is ‘the city that delivers’ and I am delighted to say that Extra Time does just that. For the city, the club, and Derby Theatre itself, ‘The ambition here is bubbling strong.’ Long may that continue.
The performances below will be accessible as follows:
Dementia Friendly Performance – Thursday 14 October, 2:30pm
Audio Described – Thursday 14 October, 2:30pm (Touch Tour 1:15pm) and 7:30pm (Touch Tour 6:15pm)
BSL Interpreted and Captioned – Thursday 14 October, 7:30pm
BSL Interpreted – Sunday 17 October, 2.30pm
Relaxed Performance – Thursday 14 October, 7:30pm
Captioned Performances – Saturday 16 October, 2:30pm
Running Time – 1 hour 45 minutes (including interval)