'Til I Die

Benjamin Cooper
The Old Red Lion Theatre
(2009)

Publicity image

Football has long united and divided its fans and ‘Till I Die centres on the relationship of two rangers fans (Danny and Lee) who both live for matches and ‘breaking heads.’ When the element of change takes hold of their lives in the form of Lee’s new girlfriend Lucy (an assured debut by Leona O’Sullivan) and his decision to join the army, their passionate friendship begins to be tested. They question if there is more to life and what they could possibly achieve. For Lee this means legitimising his destructiveness but for Danny it means questioning who he really is. For perhaps the first time he questions if his hooliganism is the only way to live and why he feels guilty for singing ‘I’d rather be a Pakki than a Frog.’

Sebastian Hurtado and Cai O’Leary interact superbly as the two leads of the piece who are neither evil nor model citizens but simply products of their upbringing. With their swearing, mock fights and confident swaggers they perfectly embody the image of a bloke on a night out and yet are not caricatures. They create rounded characters and it is easy to believe that they have known each other since their school days. They say a lot and yet struggle with their articulating their actual feelings for which not only they but the women in the piece also suffer.

The relationship created between Danny and his mother (Patricia Quinn) is touching and her encouraging words ‘It doesn’t matter where you are, it’s who you’re with’ strike a chord with the confused Danny. The life he knows defines him and yet most of his opinions remain unspoken and it is really only at the end of the play that we learn how much his mother means to him. In the same way Lucy suffers by Lee’s reluctance to confide in and share with her. Neither woman fully understands the male code yet the men don’t try too hard to understand the female equivalent.

This play essentially asks what it means to be man and examines how misplaced role models can shape the perception of manhood. With a straightforward plot that sits comfortably in one act this is an enjoyable production with equal measures of humour, bloke-ish vulgarity and grittiness. It asks questions regarding loyalty, ignorance and racism and holds a mirror to behaviour that is all too common all over the country.

Runs until the 26th September

Reviewer: Amy Yorston