The Damned United brings Theatre to a whole new audience

The Damned United brings Theatre to a whole new audience

March 2016

The Damned United – a play adapted by Anders Lustgarten from David Peace’s original novel and directed by Rod Dixon – has opened at West Yorkshire Playhouse. It tracks the career of Brian Clough’s 44 day reign as football club, Leeds United‘s manager and looks back on his happier days as manager of Derby County.

Andrew Lancel as Brian Clough. Photography by Malcolm I. Johnson SMALLER.jpg

Photograph: Malcolm I. Johnson

The show is a co-production between the dynamic, politically engaged theatre company Red Ladder and the West Yorkshire Playhouse and the auditorium has been full from the first preview, literally bringing the football ground to the Playhouse. Not only this but around half of all ticket sales have gone to first time theatre-goers – a great coup for this type of storytelling.

Nina’s projections support the narrative, using rarely seen archive footage of Clough’s glory days as well as translating his famous interview with Don Revie – his predecessor and nemesis – on stage into what feels like a live dialogue with Andrew Lancel, who plays Clough in the show.

The projections also provide narrative definition to the story by transforming Signe Beckmann’s scenic designs in a flash as the story weaves through memory and Isobel Waller-Bridge provides a fantastic underscore of sound to bring us inside Clough’s head. Tim Skelly’s lighting isolates the action in a  dramatic and incisive way.

The show played in Leeds for a month before transferring to Derby. It was nominated for as one of the Guardian Reader’s favourite stage shows of 2016.

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