Original Showing: Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Review By: Brian Merriman

Pleasance Courtyard
Time 15.45
Duration: 60 Minutes
Produced by November Theatre Company
Founder and Artistic Director Nell Bailey

Production credits for this illuminating story of a ‘queer’ soccer team are in short supply, which is a pity as there are definitely a stellar company. We meet five soccer players of all gender identities and sexual orientations, including a brother and sister, a lesbian couple and a trans footballer, who finally fits back into the soccer community, that was so much a part of their previous family life and culture.

Five young actors storm onto the stage in a well choreographed inventive piece, that deals with the importance of difference, feeling at home in sport. Here, this group of talented players find their own space and their own team in ‘Muddy Studs United’, a five-a-side group with many more facets to their stories.

With a script developed by the talented cast, the dialogue is witty, revealing and enhances the use of recorded material from the mainstream debate, that fits nicely around this new story which is perfectly pitched!

What is really interesting is the acceptance or expectation that some women soccer players will be lesbian, but that few men can be gay. Neither are without the public jibes, online abuse and social exclusion.

Then, there is the limited space to include trans players, people who have had to give up their lifelong passion aswell as coping with who they really are. ‘Bill’s’ monologue is quite the show stopping moment in this fast-moving piece of fine theatre.

Our lesbian couple is full of wit and wisdom. It is a relationship that thrives on and off the pitch, despite ‘Chloe’ being convinced her presence is the reason why every team she likes, loses the game – there is great fun in this sub-plot, very well played by both partners.

The gay brother ‘Squid’, who was drummed out of soccer by the changing room taunts, and his gay sister, top scorer who faces other obstacles in fulfilling her professional career have another perspective on being different on the pitch.

The onstage dialogue, movement and plotline never falters, though the balance between onstage voice and tracks is uneven at times at a cost to the voices. It is a story of empowerment, of a real passion for soccer that meets all the boulders put in the way of including everyone in the beautiful game. 

This is a team of beautiful performers, well rounded characters, who play to change the game with all their generous hearts. It is a real uplifting, feel-good show that doesn’t pull its punches and defeats so much phobia by their passion and belief of the ‘Studs’. 

‘Pitch’ makes it clear soccer is all the poorer today without the many qualities the exclusion of this diverse group would bring to the pitch and to the debate of inclusive sport. A well-conceived, directed, and delivered piece of theatre which is a joy to watch.