Thursday 08 July 2004
A Fans' Club - the musical - REVIEW
Matt Rickard went down to see how AFC Wimbledon made the transition from stadium to stage:
Last night saw the gala performance of "A Fans? Club", written by Matt Couper. We?ve seen the games, bought the shirts, been to Feltham, but a play? I was sceptical, and I was wrong to be.
It may be showing at the Wimbledon Studio Theatre, but this is a production that is well written, well acted, slick, professional and deeply entertaining.
It will have you in tears of sadness and laughter. It will bring back some bitter memories, and a few moments of uncontained joy.
The play itself, naturally, comes in two halves of 45 minutes.
The first half is given over entirely to the last season at Selhurst Park, from the first proposal of the move to Milton Keynes to that fateful decision just under a year later. The second half takes you through AFC Wimbledon?s first season. Both have unforgettable scenes. In particular, the sit-in in the first half and the office scene in the second stick out.
The cast is excellent. Darryl Clark, who plays the lead character Dave, at times comes close to stealing the show. William Harry, as Dave?s brother Alan, will have you using a certain catchphrase for years to come. While Jonathan Tanner, as Mr Chise and manager Tommy Eves, and Neil Fletcher, as a wide range of characters, will have you laughing out loud.
Famous AFC Wimbledon fan and actor Alun Armstrong appears on a large screen beaming down as the notorious ?Mr Big? ? a multi-media element that works surprisingly well.
The play does contain songs, but it is not a musical. They enhance a well-written production. The five original compositions are excellent and inspiring. In particular, the songs that end each half will have Dons fans humming away for days after. As for the song ?I only want to watch football?, I believe Kris Stewart has already grabbed that one for the next club karaoke night!
A Fans Club is a superb production and a must-see for all Dons fans everywhere, and indeed anyone with half a decent bone in their body.
My one abiding thought as I left the theatre was simple: ?I have to go and see it again, and again, and again.?
But don?t take my word for it. Yesterday?s audience included the AFC Wimbledon board and club officials, and below are just some of their comments:
?It?s brilliant. A superb history lesson. Every new player to this club has to go and see it.?
Dave Anderson, manager of AFC Wimbledon.
?It totally surprised me. I?m not a theatre goer, but I found it enthralling. It is really detailed and makes you understand what the club is all about. It is brilliant. The acting and everything is top drawer. It shows how important it is to respect our history and everything the club and the fans have been through. I came back from the play and was talking to my missus about it until 1am, that?s how good it is. You could put it on TV straight away.?
Nicky English, AFC Wimbledon youth team manager.
?I enjoyed A Fans? Club immensely.?
Kris Stewart, chief executive of AFC Wimbledon.
"What can I say? It was excellent, captured our story extremely well and took us though all the emotions we have experienced. Well done and thank you to everyone involved in the production. Since the message of play goes well beyond AFC Wimbledon, I feel sure it will have national appeal."
Tom Adam, Chair of the Dons Trust Board.
?Amazing, just amazing. A great night well worth booking up for again. Anyone that has been involved in any way with the AFCW story will have a great night out. If you have people that are uninitiated in AFCW then this play will educate them. Amazing.?
Ivor Heller, commercial director of AFC Wimbledon.
?Get to the theatre people. Forget thinking it's low rent and embarrassing. Well acted, funny and massive fun. The cast deserve full houses every night.?
Marc Jones, Dons Trust Board member and webmaster of Weird and Wonderful World.