"A game of few laughs"
by Andy Slater for remotegoat on 26/05/10

With the World Cup fast approaching, football is beginning to take centre-stage as it does in Stray Monkey's production Transfer Deadline Day.

Set with the transfer window swiftly nearing its end and The Pies football club desperate to sign a big name before it closes, Chairman George (Des Brittain) smuggles Ukrainian playboy striker Dimitri Lazyarsetov (Andy Durham) into the boardroom to try and get him to join his failing team. But aging forward Ray Keane (Michael Lieber) doesn't want the final whistle blown on his career and must tackle reoccurring groin injuries, dodgy agents and a feisty female executive to save himself.

The piece collects together all the fodder for a comedy about the not so beautiful game- the thick WAGs, arrogant French managers and a brash northern club owner with a side business running a toilet factory.

Ostensibly it's a farce in the Joe Orton tradition with plenty of scatological humour, a diverse ensemble of characters who can't keep their hands off one another and foreign accents by the bucketful. Not all jokes are on target however as humour jerks between well-constructed innuendo to playground filth and in place of a rather bland title, Carry on Scoring would've fitted just as well. And far too often the writing falls back on knob gags in place of decent comic material which is on show in some of the stronger sections.

The cast all deliver high energy performances, with Ray Keane's washed-up hasbeen providing the biggest chuckles, and there is nice attention to detail with set and costumes helping to create the atmosphere and a playbill which resembles a match day programme. Quips about Sky Sports News presenter Jeff Stelling, "hairdryer treatments", and ludicrous celebrations will all entertain football fans in the audience but ultimately with slightly baggy scenes, there aren't enough laughs to keep this above mid-table.

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