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Nottingham Honours Football's Old Big 'Ead Clough

By • West End
Football legend Brian Clough (pictured) will be immortalised on stage with a new play at his Nottingham ‘home ground’ this summer. Stephen Lowe’s rather verbosely titled, Old Big 'Ead in the Spirit of the Man (Brian Clough Takes to the Stage Literally - which looks at the life and career of the late football manager, who died on 20 September 2004 at the age of 69 – runs at Nottingham Playhouse from 3 to 25 June 2005. It’s one of four world premiere productions in the theatre’s new spring/summer season.

Born to a working-class Middlesbrough family in 1935, as a young footballer, Clough played for Middlesbrough and then Sunderland, where he scored a phenomenal 251 goals in 274 games. He started his managerial career in 1965 after a knee injury halted his playing. After joining Nottingham Forest in 1975, Clough led the club to national and European success over an 18 year reign. Lowe’s play reflects on the life of the enigmatic man, who was dubbed “the best manager England never had”.

Ahead of Old Big 'Ead, the Playhouse season has kicked off with the Tricycle co-production of Playboy of the West Indies, Mustapha Matura’s 1985 version of JM Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World. Directed by Tricycle artistic director Nicolas Kent and featuring Danny John-Jules, it runs at Nottingham to 12 February, which follows its London season.

It’s followed by Nottingham’s homegrown premiere of Satin 'N' Steel, from 25 February to 12 March 2005. It tells the story of Nottingham’s Sonny and Cher, entertainers Vince and Teena, who meet at a karaoke competition and set their hearts on making it big. Norman Pace (of TV’s Hale and Pace fame, recently seen in the West End production of Chicago and Sara Poyzer star in the premiere production directed by Esther Richardson. Writer Amanda Whittington’s other plays include Be My Baby. After Nottingham, the comedy will visit the Octagon Theatre, Bolton, from 6 to 30 April 2005.

The Eclipse Theatre production of Little Sweet Thing, by Roy Williams (Sing Your Heart Out for the Lads, Clubland and Fallout), visits from Nottingham from 15 to 19 February 2005, following initial dates in Ipswich. Eclipse Theatre is inspired by the findings of the Eclipse report, issued after the June 2001 conference held in Nottingham to develop strategies for combating racism in theatre. Michael Buffong directs Williams’ play which continues to Warwick, Manchester, Northampton, Brighton, Leeds, Birmingham, Reading and London’s Hampstead Theatre.

After Old Big 'Ead, next up in the Playhouse’s in-house line-up, Nottingham artistic director Giles Croft revives Arnold Wesker’s 1958 play, Chicken Soup with Barley, which is based on Wesker’s own experiences growing up in a Jewish family in the London’s East End at the time of the 1930s anti-fascist riots. The political drama – which was the first of Wesker’s autobiographical trilogy that also included Roots and I’m Talking About Jerusalem, runs from 8 to 23 April 2005.

The final Nottingham premiere is Nick Wood’s Children of the Crown, which runs from 1 to 16 July 2005. This play for younger audiences, specially commissioned by the Playhouse, centres on two royal brothers, Rian and Finn, forced to decide whether to flee or fight for their kingdom after their father and uncle are murdered. Andrew Breakwell directs.

- by Hannah Kennedy & Terri Paddock


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