This review was originally posted on The Reviews Hub.
The Lancashire town of Oldham is known for many things, cotton mills, the invention of the tubular bandage and birth place of scientist Professor Brian Cox to name but a few. But in the late 1980s and early 1990s it was town’s football team, Oldham Athletic, who truly put Oldham in the spotlight.
For the first time since 1923, Latics’ reached the 1990 Football League Cup Final, winning the Second Division title in 1991 and ending 68 years outside the top tier of English football. The memorable season still holds a place in many fans hearts and is the inspiration behind a brand new musical production by Oldham Coliseum Theatre.
Meat Pie, Sausage Roll tells the story of Mick, a die-hard Oldham Athletic fan who is forced to choose between the final match of the season and his daughter’s wedding – both of which fall on the same day. With his loyalties torn, can Mick keep his eye on the ball long enough to walk his daughter Mandi down the aisle or will his beloved football team cause more drama off the pitch than it does on?
Inventive, comical and full of heart, Meat Pie, Sausage Roll is a heart-warming story about family, loyalty and friendship. The musical is a real homage to Latics’ fans with writers Cathy Crabb and Lindsay Williams weaving memories from the team’s best season into stories from the streets and homes around Boundary Park football ground.
Carol Donaldson’s original compositions combine popular Oldham Athletic football chants such as Oh Lanky, Lanky and Mighty Blue Army (Stand up if you love Oldham) into the songs to portray the passion of the fans, while Stuart Pyke’s spine tinging commentary is cleverly used to show the passing of time, as well as evoking memories of Latics’ last gasp win against Sheffield Wednesday.
John Elkington delivers a strong performance as Mick, the father forced to choose between family and football. Jenny Platt and Gurjeet Singh are also strong in their roles as Mandi and Asif, delivering a believable performance as the young lovers. But the best of the comedy is saved for Des O’Malley as Mandi’s brother Kev and Yasmeen Khalaf as Asif’s sister Jas, both delivering an entertaining performance in their musical numbers.
Like the 2015’s smash-hit Dreamers, Meat Pie, Sausage Roll is clearly a piece of local theatre, created for local people. The script is full of in-jokes and references to Latics’ players – even Latics’ legend Andy Ritchie makes an appearance at one point – but as such, is unlikely to appeal to non-Latics’ fans.
A few sound issues in the production also need ironing out. Occasionally, it is difficult to hear the singers over the backing music and the chanting, which becomes a little tiresome after a while, occasionally drowns out the commentary.
That said, this is a story that truly gets to the heart of the town and its unique story certainly has the ability to draw fans who wouldn’t normally visit the theatre into the venue, if only out of curiosity.
Runs until 25 March 2017 | Image: Joel C Fildes
Donna is the Founder and Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she works as a digital marketing specialist, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage and The Reviews Hub. Loves Formula 1, prosecco and life.