Britain has gone sports mad (again!) – Andy Murray, the rugby Lions, the Tour de France and now the Ashes. But hang on, where are all the women? Have we forgotten Jessica Ennis, Laura Trott, Cath Grainger, Rebecca Adlington and the rest already? Women’s football, cricket and rugby is played by thousands but is, so far as the TV, radio and newspapers go, near-invisible.
Muddy Cows, with its all-female cast of six, puts women’s sport refreshingly centre stage. The production has plenty of John Godber trademarks – rough humour, some cracking one-liners, and insights into the invisible motivations of so-called ‘ordinary’ lives and Godber clearly has a great affection for the game and all its rituals. The central dramatic dilemma is fascinating too; the women like each other’s company and enjoy ‘farting around’, but is that enough? Should they be trying to be good at rugby, as their coach wants, or would that spoil their enjoyment? Sport is about winning, and winning does help a team to bond, but it’s also about getting away from the husband, getting fit and becoming mates with people that you wouldn’t otherwise know.
The first half spends time setting up the drama and needs a bit more oomph. But the second half, set in the changing room between matches in a tournament, bundles along very nicely. The cast are terrific, with Claire Eden shining as the identical twins Donna and Daisy (naturally we never see them together); she gets most of the best lines, and delivers them with perfect timing.
I am a Welshman and therefore believe rugby is the most beautiful game in the world, but only when it’s played by the Welsh. Nevertheless, it’s good to see the English having a go – they’re so much better when there’s no males involved.
Muddy Cows by John Godber runs at the SJT until 31 August. Box Office on 01723 370541 or online at www.sjt.uk.com
- Published in On Stage: Reviews