Wearing Colours

Written by John Dillon
Unity Theatre (17th-19th September 2008)

Reviewed by Anthony Swords

The relationship between sport and art is often an uneasy one. While providing a good basis or background to many films, plays and programmes, when it takes centre stage it is often shown to be a shallow enterprise.

Wearing Colours is set in an Ostend hotel room on the night of the infamous 1985 Liverpool versus Juventus European Cup clash. The performance starts with a good montage of famous Liverpool triumphs and scenes from the turbulent events of the 1980s, all set to the decade’s Dire Straits power chords of Dire Straits.

In the author’s notes on this new performance, John Dillon said ‘No rewrites were required as the piece, based on an actual event in the mid eighties, could not be updated or revised’. Unfortunately I feel that the Vauxy Theatre have missed a great opportunity to do so and improve this piece, develop its characters and expand upon the ideas that are discussed now with the benefit of twenty-three years’ hindsight.

While the driving force of the dialogue is football, its culture and the tragic events of that May evening, there is little else discussed of that era, or revealed about the characters or their backgrounds. While the emotional intensity of the events is conveyed well by the cast, such oversights in character development mean the objective Mitch is painful to listen to.

Wearing Colours is short and sweet, with moments of humour and concise thoughts on the importance placed on football and what that has sadly entailed on many occasions.

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Comment left by abigail darwent on 14th April, 2009 at 16:40
".....little else discussed of that era, or revealed about the characters or their backgrounds". Really? How come I learned that the brothers in the piece were changed by the rampant unemployment in Liverpool in the mid-Eighties: one struggling on benefits, the other working abroad? The politics of the time were encapsulated by a speech which ended with an attack on The Sun newspaper and this, if you had been paying attention, would have supplied further information about the political and social climate of the time. I understand that John Dillon wrote this play in 1985 and for me, as a Liverpool fan, it captured the mood and attitude of the time pretty well. Maybe you just had to be there.

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