Beard is a new student musical from Eoghan McNelis. It tells the story of Sam (Hero Douglas), an aspiring journalist who has been served an eviction notice on her flat in
This is a production that must be applauded for its bold ambition. Homosexuality in football is a subject that has been touched on a few times in the theatre world before, such as in John Donnelly’s The Pass (starring Russell Tovey as a footballer who has a fling with a teammate), or Jumpers for Goalposts by Tom Wells (which details the workings of an LGBT Sunday 5-a-side league). But never has the subject been brokered to audience in musical theatre format. The heady mixture of songs and weighty subject matter provide the opportunity for a genuinely emotional and cathartic connection with its audience.
This production’s set provides the perfect space in which to tell this story and makes impeccable use of the intimate Burton Taylor space. The use of blank picture frames, onto which are projected various different images, moves the story along seamlessly from scene to scene. Director Ella Tournes (who I remember for her excellent contribution to Spring Awakening on the Playhouse main stage a few weeks ago) manoeuvres her cast with pace and urgency to create a tight and solid production.
At times, the content of the show ventures a little offside. There are many plot threads, such as how badly the team is doing on the pitch, and a principle character’s brother’s illness, that are never fully explored. The highlight of the show is probably a drag number that takes place around half way through, but as it is so thoroughly disconnected from everything else in the story, it feels very strange and surreal, as though the audience has been transported to the Club Silencio from
I have a real interest in football, musical theatre and stories about overcoming prejudice and adversity. But, whilst I found the concept interesting, I think the music and script needed a little more work. Nevertheless, its intentions should be applauded and its cast and crew praised for a challenging and credit-worthy undertaking.