Saturday, 24 September 2011

Dancing Shoes – The George Best Story

Glasgow Pavilion
3 stars
When footballing playboy George Best ordered one more magnum of
champagne to be delivered to the hotel room where he was rolling around
a bank-note carpeted bed with newly-crowned 1973 Miss World Marjory
Wallace, he was asked by room service where it all went wrong. This
incident may be immortalised in Marie Jones and Martin Lynch's musical
play about the first ever superstar footballer's spectacularly public
rise and fall, but this isn't the traditional lads mag version of the
tale. Rather, the incident, told here in song, reveals Best as a
terrified mummy's boy who had too much too soon, and, unable to deal
with fame in a pre-gagging clauses world, partied his way to an early
grave.

It's a telling moment in a show that is never shy of easy laughs in
Peter Sheridan's spit n' sawdust production, but says stadium-loads
about how working-class aspiration can become back-alley Greek tragedy.
Opening with a feelgood study of how a scrawny street urchin came to be
apprenticed to Manchester United, the action is split between a
trainspotter's guide to Best anecdotage and a wicked eye for comedy.
The perils of primitive TV reception are especially well-observed.

As Adian O Neill's Best hits the bottle, both JJ Gilmour and Pat
Gribben's 1960s working-mans club patented live score and an appearance
by a mop-topped Beatles show just how much Best was a product of his
time. By the time he's doing a self-destructive double-act with Alex
Higgins in a Singing Detective style death-bed song and dance routine,
any accusations of sentimental hagiography have transformed into a
magical-realist vaudeville take on a life that became a hubris-filled
farce.

The Herald, September 19th 2011

ends

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