A Red Ladder and West Yorkshire Playhouse production, Anders Lustgarden condenses his recent stage play based on the novel by David Peace, into a wholly engaging 65 minutes.

You don’t need to know about football to like this play; it is a wonderful glimpse from director Rod Dixon into the world of a man whose talent was stolen from him and how he sought to bring it out in others to redeem himself.

Brian Clough’s 42 days as manager of ‘dirty, dirty’ Leeds United in 1974 is told with unique staging. Nina Dunn’s use of graphics and images allows the cast of only three to bring to life Clough’s chaotic time at Leeds United as well as highlighting what brought him there.

Michael Sheen may have won plaudits for his film portrayal but Luke Dickson absolutely shines and shivers as Brian Clough. He does not focus wholly on Clough’s mannerisms and this allows an empathy to build for such a flawed character; you hear the pain in his words and see the pomp in his attitude as his jealousy warps him. As he weeps for his ‘Mam’, there is a complete sense of a broken man whose is constantly trying to rebuild himself.

The constant use of flashback enables the audience to see the rise and fall of ‘Cloughie’. His intense relationship with Peter Taylor, sensitively played by David Chafer, is tenderly highlighted as the play progresses. As we see them unite in Derby’s glory, we also witness their demise, not unlike a marriage, in the aftermath of happiness.

Jamie Smelt provides an array of entertaining supporting characters; Sid from the backroom staff at Leeds, dressed all in velour was most memorable in his interchanges with Clough, allowing the audience to see how others saw him. All of the cast maintain a vigour and dynamism throughout which pays homage to Clough’s spirit and the spell he cast around him (love him or hate him).

An exceptional piece of drama from a bold theatre company, leaving you wanting more.

Reviewer: Catherine ni Cier

Reviewed: 25th October 2018

North West End Rating: ★★★★