‘8 out of 10 cats’ star out on tour

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - STAGE -

AS the for­mer head of BBC York­shire, of the Na­tional Me­dia Mu­seum and now an au­thor, Colin Philpott knows a good story.

He’s found a bel­ter for his de­but play. The Last Match tells the fas­ci­nat­ing tale of one of cricket’s most poignant games.

On Fri­day, Septem­ber 1, 1939, the Sec­ond World War be­gan and Eng­land’s county cricket sea­son came to an abrupt end for all teams – all teams, that is, ex­cept for York­shire and Sus­sex. They were en­gaged in bat­tle at Hove, Sus­sex’s home ground, when the news ar­rived that Bri­tain had gone to war with Ger­many.

“They de­cided to fin­ish the game,” says Philpott. “The main rea­son was that they were play­ing a ben­e­fit match for one of the Sus­sex play­ers. The evac­u­a­tion order had come, troops were be­ing mo­bilised, Head­in­g­ley was telling the play­ers to get back and it looked like the game was pe­ter­ing out to a draw – and yet they kept play­ing. As it turned out, Hedley Ver­ity took seven for nine in what was his last match for York­shire, but I have al­ways been fas­ci­nated by the de­ci­sion. That they kept play­ing seemed a fu­tile and even of­fen­sive de­ci­sion, but on the other hand it might also seem rather noble and even right. Like Drake play­ing bowls on Ply­mouth Hoe as the Span­ish Ar­mada ar­rived. For me it is a story about the or­di­nary and the ex­tra­or­di­nary clash­ing.”

Philpott has now turned the tale into a drama. The story of the game is dra­matic enough, but – as with most things cricket-re­lated – there is much depth below the sur­face.

“The game was re­mark­able for a num­ber of things. The fact that Ver­ity took seven for nine, bowled Sus­sex out for 33 and York­shire knocked off the runs and then climbed on to a coach to come home was some­thing. It was also sig­nif­i­cant that it was the last time that team, ar­guably one of the great­est county teams ever, was to­gether. It was also the last game of what many would ar­gue was the great­est left arm slow bowler the game has ever seen. Ver­ity never came back from the Sec­ond World War. It’s a story that has al­ways fas­ci­nated me.”

Ini­tially Philpott con­sid­ered a doc­u­men­tary ap­proach to the story. None of the play­ers are still alive, but he did track down a spec­ta­tor who was at the match. “I looked at the i idea of find­ing peo­ple who were there and telling the story as a doc­u­men­tary, but in a way that would make it about just the game. It’s ac­tu­ally about a lot more than that. It’s about the jux­ta­po­si­tion of war and peace, the idea of duty and sac­ri­fice and to be hang­ing on to the last moments of peace.”

Philpott has teamed up with York theatre and film direc­tor Kit Monkman to turn the story into a drama that w will pre­miere in Scarborough next week. “We’re go­ing to be stag­ing it ac­tu­ally on a cricket ground. It is roughly the 75th an­niver­sary of the ac­tual game and ap­pro­pri­ately York­shire are play­ing Sus­sex next week.” The plan is to stage a half-hour ver­sion of the play – Philpott has writ­ten the full ver­sion – in a mar­quee at Scarborough, dur­ing the town’s cricket fes­ti­val, next week. Philpott hopes the re­ac­tion will be pos­i­tive enough to jus­tify see­ing a longer ver­sion of the play pro­duced, pos­si­bly at Hove.

Kit Monkman, who is also di­rect­ing, says: “The story of this cricket match and its hero Hedley Ver­ity is a story which tran­scends cricket and which speaks to some of the fun­da­men­tals about what it means to be hu­man at times of great cri­sis.” COMEDIAN Ja­son Man­ford has added new dates to his tour this au­tumn.

He’s al­ready per­formed 220 shows with First World Prob­lems and has now added 18 more.

On stage Ja­son en­cour­ages au­di­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion by ask­ing them to share their First World Prob­lems with him.

The comedian shot to stardom on tele­vi­sion as part of Chan­nel Four’s 8 out of 10 Cats in 2007.

And you can seen his show on tour at York Bar­bican on Septem­ber 23.

For tick­ets call the Box Of­fice on 0844 854 2757.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.