Ridiculusmus’ Total Football is as much a biting indictment of Britain today as it is a farcical comedy. This two-handed satire, set in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics, depicts the journey of a rather unctuous Under Secretary for Sport and Culture’s ill thought-out plan to rouse British patriotism through the game of football…and the hapless bureaucrats lumbered with the task of making it work.
Amid pops of physicality and driving beats, David Woods and Jon Haynes keep hammering home the jokes. Jokes that, while funny, occasionally hit a little close to the bone. Both are excellent in this frenetically paced show, with both Woods shining as the Under Secretary, playing him to a smarmy – and slightly scary – tee, and Haynes as the boring, money-grubbing underling whose personal secrets somehow keep escaping during press conferences.
In George Tomlinson’s bleak portacabin-esque set, the piece moves from surreal FatBoy Slim style dances to all-too-real deconstructions of British identity with ease. To be fair, cracking wise at the deluded tribal instincts of Britain during large sporting tournaments is nothing new. But the pair are witty enough make it work, keeping the audience with them throughout. And, despite being entirely concocted of short, snappy scenes the plot manages to pull the audience along with just enough fluency to make sense. Though the ending may be a little anti-climactic, Total Football is, on the whole, superb.
A quirky show, you no more need to be interested in football to see it than you do curling, and if you only spend 70 minutes in a theatre before 18 June, be sure to spend them here. And by the curtain, if you take away nothing about multicultural Britain and its puppeteering politicians, you’ll at least be guaranteed a good lung workout.