Posted: 11/25/2013
Title: A PIE, A PINT, AND A PLAY

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      You can't have much more fun and entertainment than this one act play with three actors at The Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds !!!

       I can't imagine all this for 10 in the West End or Broadway as Anthony Clavane's masterpiece of Yorkshire Folk was more than you could ask for. I chose the meat & potato pie and the Stella Artois smooth lager before the action began.  They say that Yorkshiremen as well balanced- they have a chip on both shoulders!  It was an intimate setting of The Space by the bar area with three rows of chairs on four sides with 100 plus in the audience. You have heard of theatre in the round - well,  this was theatre in a square. It was like being in the changing room at Headingley or Elland Road, with laughter instead of linament and tape.

       Dicken Ashworth as Eddie Waring, William Fox as Eddie M, a tragic loser, and Dominic Gately as Doorman Dave were fantastic and gave powerful performances. The setting is an imaginary evening in the Queens Hotel in City Square, Leeds in December 1977, shortly after Eddie Waring had appeared on 'The Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special' singing 'Nothing Like a Dame' from South Pacific, with an estimated TV audience of 25 million.

        I grew up watching Eddie, The Voice of Rugby League, on black & white and then colour telly. In those days it was a game played on dreary Saturday afternoons in winter in the North of England in wet and muddy conditions in mostly small 'stadiums' in many former pit towns and villages. As a student sports editor and later as a fan, I used to go to lots of not so romantic places such as Castleford-Wheldon Road; Featherstone Rovers-Post Office Road; Batley-Mount Pleasant; Bramley-Barley Mow;  Dewsbury-Crown Flats; Blackpool Borough -Greyhound Stadium; Salford-The Willows; Widnes- Naughton Park;  Halifax-Thrum Hall; Huddersfield-Fartown; Hunslet-Parkside; Wigan-Central Park; and Leeds - Headingley......

      One day in 1960 I went to the World Cup Final at Bradford's Odsal Stadium and slipped and slid on a greasy, muddy embankment as Great Britain beat Australia in nasty conditions. This weekend the two semi-finals were played at the all seater Wembley and the final next weekend is at The Theatre of Dreams, Old Trafford.

      I had a friend with a sports shop who had played in Australia for Wests and then Leeds and Hunslet-Arthur Clues- who invited me to watch his former club, Hunslet at Parkside. They played in brown jerseys which mingled with the mud. Nowadays the game, which is in the middle of the World Cup in England, is played in the summer months.

      Waring, a former typewriter salesman, lived for a time in a suite in The Queens and he had a cult following for thirty years, but towards the end there was a petition signed by 10,000 that wanted him off the air- he was too folksy. His famous sayings such as Up and Under, An Early Bath, and Poor Lad were immortal. At the rain soaked 1968 Challenge Cup Final ' The Watersplash Final',  in front of 85,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, Wakefield's Don Fox missed an easy kick from under the posts in the dying seconds to give rivals Leeds the Cup. 'POOR LAD !' said Eddie. It was a classic.

     After the show we all left on a dark and stormy night, raining cats and dogs. and ran down the steps and across the road to the shelter of the Leeds Bus Station. Anthony tells me that they are going to take the show on tour. SO GLAD that I have my National Express bus pass to follow them.

      

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