Adapted from ‘They Took the Lead’ by writer and performer Michael Head, The Greater Game offers a timely reminder of the sacrifices made my millions during World War I.
Focusing on those footballers of Clapton Orient – later to become Leyton Orient – who volunteered for service, Head’s script brings to life an era that now lives solely in books and plays such as this.
Head plays Jumbo, and is joined by Harry Potter star James Phelps, as well as Eastenders stalwart Michael Greco.
William Jonas (Steven Bush), Elizabeth McFadden (Helena Doughty), Mary Jane Jonas (Victoria Gibson), Fred ‘Spider’ Parker (Jack Harding), Jimmy Hugall (Tom Stocks), Nolan ‘Peggy’ Evans (Paul Marlon) and George Scott (Scott Kyle).
There are some incredibly tender and heartbreaking moments throughout, highlighting the impact of war not only on the men involved but also the ones they left behind.
Waterloo East is a suitable venue for the play, it’s slightly tatty interior merely enhancing the feel of the play.
A couple of the characters do appear to wrestle slightly with the north-east accents required, while some clumsy staging on what is a fairly confined space doesn’t detract from the brutal message and memories at the heart of the show.