First World War centenary play: The Greater Game stars James Phelps and Michael Greco | Theatre | Entertainment

First World War centenary play: The Greater Game stars James Phelps and Michael Greco | Theatre | Entertainment 1038207 1

The show, written by Michael Head and directed by Adam Morely, provides insight into the lives of footballers who enlisted to fight in the war.

James Phelps – who played Fred Weasley in the Harry Potter films – will ditch the Battle of Hogwarts for the Battle of the Somme as he swaps his wizardry wand for a buccaneering bayonet.

UK TV favourite Michael Greco will join Phelps as the two actors help complete the line-up of Clapton Orient – the former name of Leyton Orient FC – a football team of men who went to “fight for King and Country”. caught up with the show’s cast and writer from the Leyton Orient locker room where they are currently rehearsing ahead of the show’s opening night on Tuesday, October 30.

Phelps, who stars as Richard McFadden in the show, said: “On the first day we read through the script and immediately got cracking on the scenes.

“And the initial moments are showing just what a football dressing room is: full of banter and a team working together.

“It was never a moody piece – even when they are in the thick of it in the trenches there is still that camaraderie and that banter going on. It’s not all doom and gloom.

“We really wanted to emphasise that human side of it. It is quite easy for people to look back and say, ‘in the 1910s everyone spoke very prim and proper’ but that is not how it was.

“It was very much the banter of football – and sport in general – we wanted to get across.”

Award-winning actor Paul Marlon, who plays Nolan “Peggy” Evans in the show, concurred with his co-star, saying: “The working class elements and the football elements we know – to this day – are about banter.”

Marlon revealed he and the cast had spent time during rehearsals “mucking about” and “taking the Mickey out of each other” to get into their roles.

He said: “And that has helped us as a cast.”

Tom Stocks, who plays Jimmy Hugall, explained it was important to take the politics out of Remembrance Sunday and the commemoration of the World War I centenary.

He said: “People have got the whole poppy row.

“That poppy is there to remember the fallen – not glorify war.

“When you come and see the show, the politics have got to be taken out of it.

“Whether you believe in war or not, whether you believe in the poppy, you come to watch this show because three men in this team died and we have got to remember those – and everyone – who fought in the war.

“And when you come and watch it, you should come and watch with a clear head and have a laugh and a cry.

“You are here to be entertained. We are storytellers and we are telling the story of these men that fell for the club and this country.”

Writer Michael Head said: “To get the chance to tell this story, to touch so many and bring an audience to tears and fill the theatre with laughter was a real pleasure and this time everything is set to be even stronger than our first run.

“It is important to humanise these people and tell their story – and also entertain as well.”

The Greater Game is the only dramatic arts production endorsed by Football Remembers, a collective campaign relaunched for 2018 by the FA, Premier League, EFL and PFA enabling English football to collectively mark the culmination of the First World War Centenary and the Armistice commemorations.

Of the collaboration, Head said: “It’s lovely – what an honour for them to pin their badge to our show.”

The Greater Game runs October 30 – November 24 2018; Tue-Sat, 7.30pm (Sun, 2 pm) at Waterloo East Theatre, Brad Street, London, SE1 8TN.

Source : EXPRESS

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