Review: The Three Lions at The Liverpool Playhouse

Posted on 18 March 2015
By Chris High
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Stick three egos of inordinate size in a single room ahead of one of English football’s biggest dates with destiny and, rest assured, fireworks are guaranteed to fly. That’s the scenario being played out at The Liverpool Playhouse this week, with William Gaminara’s The Three Lions – literally, at least – delivering all that they have promised; a raucous night of laughter and political satire. What’s more, you don’t even need to be into footy to get it.

This is play that could so easily be staid and somewhat predictable. However, what Gaminara has successfully created is a drum-tight script that nevertheless leaves his characters to move and develop as the play unfolds.

Of course this is enabled by some superb direction from Philip Wilson and an exemplary cast who move swiftly into space, turn the defence and take shots from almost impossible angles, Okay, some of the shots can be seen coming, but there are more than a few others with enough dip and spin for those seated in the stands to do nothing more than sit back and admire.

Sean Browne’s “Beckham”, it has to be said, is the show-stealer. With great aplomb, his every crooked, arching eyebrow, every “deep” observation and each vacant glance, encapsulates brilliantly the expected inanity of the player-turned-ambassador-turned patron Saint-of-English-football, as well as some of the surprising guile that has turned him into an icon beyond the pitch.

Dugald Bruce-Lockhart’s “Cameron” will have Conservatives in the auditorium shuddering ahead of the General Election because the portrayal of his obsequiousness, his smarmy, hand-wringing “I’m better than everybody else” ness, is something we can all too well believe and is brilliantly delivered. As it Tom Davey’s “Public Schoolboy let out into the real world” depiction of Prince William, whose delivery and timing is priceless.

As sex-crazed, trainee PA Penny, Antonia Kenley’s display of naiveté is at once charming and blunt at turns, so that hers is persona to keep an eye on throughout which makes us doubt her motives, whereas the uber-slick Vikram played by Rava Aujla is a delight at every turn.

With a single scene set that shrinks and stretches so as to show the claustrophobia of the situation in which these three dispirit souls find themselves immersed, and some backing music that will have the “crowd” whistling along to once the curtain drops, The Three Lions is as funny as any denial of corruption proffered by FIFA and a damn site more entertaining than any international friendly.

The Three Lions
The Liverpool Playhouse
March 16 – March 21
Author: William Gaminara
Director: Philip Wilson
Producers: Rosie Bowen for PBJ Management, Jenny Topper, The Pleasance Theatre Trust
Cast: Dugald Bruce-Lockhart, Sean Browne, Tom Davey, Antonia Kinlay, Rava Aujla, Lewis Collier
Running Time: 2 hrs 15 mins
PR Rating: **** Cracking Match