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Phys-Ed (24:7 Festival)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
New Century House, Manchester

Simon Carter's Phys Ed tells the life story of Neville Trellis (Nicholas Osmond), PE teacher and identical brother of one of England’s greatest rugby players. The time has come for Neville to have his moment in the spotlight with his school rugby team who are on the verge of glory in a rugby tournament.

Throughout this piece the audience journey with Neville as he describes how he has ended up as a PE teacher, his trials and tribulations at Cub camp, bet wetting as a child and the injury which prevented him from impressing the England Selectors like his brother.

Osmond delivers this piece in a very witty, comical style, but there is always an underlying tone of sympathising with Neville as many of the tales recanted end in up embarrassment, disappointment and missed opportunities. There's a heavy element of pathos running through the piece which Osmond delivers in a very subtle manner. The audience learn to appreciate the difficulties Neville has faced as the twin of an instantly recognisable sporting hero and the inevitable disappointment Neville encounters from members of the public once it is clear he is only the brother of a superstar, not a star himself.

The play is very cleverly lit by Felicity Langthorne which serves to enhance the audience experience in this unusual venue and assists Osmond in making this monologue visually pleasing as well as easy on the ear.

In short, this clever, amusing and at times poignant piece is a real treasure and demonstrates how difficult it can be to desire something without converting it and learning to recognise your own achievements rather than constantly comparing yourself to someone else.

- Ruth Lovett


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