Within the past decade, we’ve witnessed the brave and pioneering work put in by sporting legends of the past really making its mark. From sponsorship opportunities, to support for mothers, to the awareness brought towards women’s sport, the battle for much needed endorsement and support within women’s sport has been a lengthy one, and one that continues to be battled, both on and off the sporting arena. Examining the advocacy aspect of sport within her sporting drama Fair Play, Ella Road crafts a complex portrayal of training, competition and the advocacy that goes on behind the scenes to help ensure a fairer playing field.
Two team mates prepare for what could be their life changing moment, nationals, the European Championships and inevitably the Olympic Games, their ultimate goal. Although a naturally competitive environment, Sophie (Charlotte Beaumont) and Ann (Nick King) develop an endearing camaraderie, one where topics of sexuality, women’s health and aspirations unite. Dynamic training sessions, choreographed meticulously by movement director Joseph Toonga and assistant movement director Orin Norbert authentically place us all within the cast’s sporting reality, as if we ourselves are part of the training squad, which is exciting to be a part of. This also made possible by Naomi Dawson’s creative maroon, white striped racing track set, metallic training bars placed either side of the in the round staging that helps foster a sporting state of mind.
Fair Play cleverly encapsulates a sense of camaraderie, before very slowly highlighting the realities of what excelling at your discipline brings with it, a scrutiny that often labels and distracts from the skill set clearly displayed. This is very powerful to take in, issues of race and gender adding to the political aspect of sport, one that challenges the rapport established between both team mates. Monique Touko directs an impactful, energetic evening, Matt Haskins’ intense, lighting design and Giles Thomas’ heart thumping sound design and composition combine to channel the show’s athleticism. The production is a celebration of the human body and its capabilities. A hard hitting, vital piece of work that we’ll look back at in years to come!
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Fair Play is currently showing until Monday 3rd January 2022 at the Bush Theatre. To find out more about the production, visit here…