Sarah Crawford reviews Mermaids’ second Barron production of the year, Jumpers for Goalposts
Jumpers for Goalposts follows the lives of members of a five-a-side football team as they strive to win a top spot in their league – or, at least, to lose less terribly. The play takes the form of various post-game locker room chats, and, though humorous for the most part, occasionally touches on more serious topics, such as homophobia, bereavement, and HIV.
My main issue with this play is that it seemed unsure of its genre, and it felt as though the actors were unsure as well. The rare ‘serious’ moments often came across as forced and, though this is mostly a fault of the playwright, the issues were resolved all-too-easily. For example, in the show’s opening scene, Luke Simboli, playing the team’s goofy busker, Geoff, seemed to have forgotten his line. When prompted to explain the cut on his forehead, he simply looked out to the audience and said, ‘I was gay-bashed’, before quickly moving on with the script. Similarly, when aspiring-coach Danny (Toby Poole) fearfully reveals to his boyfriend Luke (Chris Overmeer) that he is HIV positive, Luke’s reaction felt stilted, abrupt, and painfully scripted, rather than a genuine response of shock and anger. Furthermore, when Viv (Amy Unett) and her brother-in-law Joe (Sam McReavy) finally sat down to discuss the death of his wife, the moment passed quickly and lacked a sense of vulnerability that I would have liked to see in Viv as a character who, for most of the play, comes across as harsh and bossy.
That being said, much of the play was light-hearted and charming, and I felt this was largely due to Poole’s performance as the smitten but hesitant Danny. Poole’s portrayal was refreshingly honest; he kept the script’s humor and charm as Danny pined after shy librarian Luke, and, in his more dramatic scenes, never pushed his performance past what it needed. Overmeer also deserves a mention for his performance as Joe, the team’s ‘token straight guy’. Though Joe is certainly one of the play’s quieter characters, Overmeer’s portrayal was likeable and endearing.
I applaud the cast of Jumpers for Goalposts for their overall performance, and feel as though many of the show’s flaws could have been fixed had they only had more rehearsal time. As it was, I was impressed by what they accomplished in such a brief timeframe and enjoyed spending my evening watching that quirky group of unconventional footballers as they attempted to improve both their athletic abilities and their relationships.
STARS: * * *