Fun, friendships and Sunday league football

Matthew Booth in Studs by Gordon Steel which Reform Theatre are touring April-May 2011
Matthew Booth in Studs by Gordon Steel which Reform Theatre are touring April-May 2011

SHEFFIELD’S Reform Theatre Company embark on their latest UK tour with a production of Studs by Gordon Steel which they will bring to the Pomegranate, Chesterfield, next week.

It’s a bittersweet comedy about two football-mad blokes and their wannabe WAG girlfriends.

Among the cast of five is former Emmerdale actor Matthew Booth who explains: “It’s a play about friendship.

“The men are in a Sunday league football team of quite a decent standard and their girlfriends think of themselves as WAGs. They all go on separate weekends away, the boys supposedly playing golf in Scarborough and the girls on a shopping expedition but they end up in the same place. One of the men ends up having a fling with his friend’s girlfriend. She ends up pregnant so there’s a bit of a mystery about who’s the father.

“It’s a play which takes you through their lives over nine months which is mostly about football, drinking and clubbing,” he continues. “The manager of the football team is the narrator of the story which has another side to it about the council wanting to close down the football club. So there is a bit of politics as well.”

Booth plays the easy-going Tommo opposite hard as nails Mac played by Kivan Dene. “It’s a rites of passage story and you see them all grow up and the audience is left to make up their own about who is the baby’s father.”

The actor admits he is playing much younger than his actual age. “Tommo’s 23 and I’m 35 but I’m having a close shave and a haircut so I should be able to pass for that age at a distance,” he laughs.

“The girl characters are even younger and the actresses (Natasha Atkinson and Amy Walsh) are closer to that age. The female parts are strong which I like. It’s not always the case that they are given good characters to work on.”

The world of the play is something with which Booth is familiar. “I played Sunday league for 10 years and Kiv has also played at a decent level and although we don’t play football on stage, hopefully it will help to make us convincing,” he says.

The actor confesses to following Manchester United. “I’m not a glory hunter,” he insists. “Growing up in Pontefract (where he still lives) you had to make the choice of supporting Leeds or Man U and I didn’t want to follow Leeds who were actually the better team then.”

With director Keith Hukin having an allegiance to Sheffield Wednesday and Richard Marriott, playing Ronnie the manager, a lifelong Blade there is plenty of football rivalry around the production.

Booth first appeared with Reform in last year’s Thick as Thieves, having previously toured to Sheffield with Hull Truck in John Godber’s Teechers. Later in the year Matt Booth is taking a one-man show written by Godber, called Beef, on a UK tour which he himself has arranged.

“I have used Keith’s model for Reform Theatre – and a lot of his contacts. It’s great to work with people who are so enthusiastic.”

Reform open the tour of Studs at Doncaster Little Theatre on Friday and will be at the Pomegranate Theatre in Chesterfield next week from Tuesday to Saturday. They have a Sheffield date at the Lantern Theatre on April 24 and the tour ends in Harrogate on May 7.