Theatre Review - Fit and Proper People

by Georgia Fitch

Soho Theatre

Running until 5 November 2011

Watching football must be Britain’s number one form of entertainment so it’s odd that there aren’t more plays on the subject. Both offer spectacle and the chance to escape from reality which surely makes a near-perfect marriage. Georgia Fitch’s no holds barred look behind the scenes of Premier League football is as entertaining as it is instructive.

Having previously immersed herself in this world, Fitch explores the shady dealings that go on behind closed doors, the machinations of the chairmen, managers and agents, working in championship football, as well as the insidious racism on and off the pitch.

Agent Casey Layton (Katy Stephens) is conspiring to remove her club’s manager Tony Whitechapel (Steven Hartley) whilst keeping owner and chairman, Frank Wong (David Yip), on side. She has her own personal reasons for this which are only revealed towards the end of the play’s two hour duration. Along the way, we are given a glimpse of the pressures for footballers and their WAGS, the reality for fans who can ill afford the escalating ticket prices, the huge sums of money that are involved in promotion and the ensuing greed and corruption that stain the reputation of the world’s most popular sport.

Fitch’s trademark writing style has characters’ speech overlapping with one another, delivered at breakneck speed, which perfectly complements her subject matter. Steven Marmion’s imaginative direction ensures that FIT AND PROPER PEOPLE is as compelling for non-football enthusiasts, such as myself, as it will be for diehard fans.  He also draws out terrific performances from the ensemble cast.

Designer Tom Piper has ingeniously transformed Soho’s main stage into a football pitch complete with stands and floodlights, and a tunnel that doubles as goal posts, and it is surely one of the best theatre sets you’ll see all year. We are surrounded by advertising hoardings, doubling as screens, and during the interval we are sold pies and beer (the beers are free if you are wearing a football shirt). There is also a hilarious prize raffle to keep you entertained between halves.

Fitch does not paint a pretty picture, much of it based on real events and people, but as Marmion notes in the programme: “Something is very, very wrong at the heart of football… what better form to offer insight into this world than theatre.”

Originally published by Theatreworld