Coming down the mid-field, New Theatre has ‘kicked-off’ their 2023 program with Tom Wells’ 2013 locker room comedy Jumpers for Goalposts. Goalposts follows a struggling English queer 5-a-side football tourney team ‘Barely Athletic’ as they weave their way through both the local tournament and the muddy ground of their non-football related interpersonal issues.
Wells’ writing is undoubtedly sharp, bringing a crisp sense of life to a play which otherwise would feel like no more than a PSA about supporting others with sexual health conditions. Wells’ rhetoric is earnest and his world accessible, undemanding on actors and audience alike as they coast through the evening. Characters Viv (Emma Louise) the lesbian pub owner and team captain, Joe (Nick Curnow) the straight brother-in-law thereof, Beardy Geoff (Jared Stephenson) a guitar playing busker in earnest attempt to write his ‘one song’, Danny (Issac Broadbent) a young man in love and in personal turmoil and Luke (Sam Martin) the adorable boy-next-door, sit well with each other to the tune of mismatched misfit charm. Broadbent and Curnow were of particular note as their effortless charisma didn’t so much bleed through, but rather overran the thrust of the set in rivulets which pooled by the feet of those in the front row. Had this been a musical, toe-tapping would be dangerous indeed, threatening to splash their unassailable delight over roof and walls alike.
Direction by Alice Livingtone matched most appropriately the tone, pace and depth of feeling required by the text, tripping occasionally on tufts of two dimensional ‘tissue paper’ moments set about carelessly by Wells. Livingstone was well served by Tom Bannerman’s set design, which was both simple and exciting in layout, palette, detail and its reality-based character-filled whimsey. Whereas lighting served more to “Midnight in a Public Bathroom” as opposed to “Late Sunday Afternoon - football changeroom”.
British playwright Welles, began his ‘full length play’ career in 2010 with Me, As a Penguin and his work has since been performed in Sydney twice notably at the Ensemble Theatre with Kitchen Sink (2017) and FOLK (2019).
Newtown’s New Theatre is a fantastic mixing pot of dedicated performing artists and creatives alike. The rest of its 2023 program includes Richard Bean’s masterful comedy One Man Two Guvnors, Arthur Miller’s highly charged classic All My Sons and Ben Weatherill’s Jellyfish. I shall be keeping my eyes to the horizon and ear to the ground in anticipation of their next production this season.