Review: Muddy Cows at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

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Subtle it isn’t – watching John Godber’s new play is like being caught in a rugby scrum. But that’s the point.

Muddy Cows is set in the world of women’s rugby union – every bit as dirty, passionate and tough as the men’s game – but without the luxury of reliable transport, clean kit and hot showers.

The all-female cast get hold of the script by the scruff of the neck and do justice to Godber’s earthy portrait of class, sporting elitism, sexism, sex, marriage. love, death and recession.

For this reviewer Lost and Found, last year’s offering from Godber, was lacklustre – this is a different ball game. It is a brilliant character study of six women with only rugby in common. It’s funny, poignant and pertinent.

The performances were spot-on in what is a truly ensemble piece. The cast has star names – Abi Titmuss top of that list, but she can act and more than holds her own with Liz Carling and Hayley Tamaddon. Not that it is a competition – the camaraderie of these women storms across the footlights.

Carling is the anchor of the production – team captain Maggie whose love for the game is driven by tragedy and when the nature of that is revealed – wow! Such was the power of the acting of Carling and Claire Eden who plays lumbering farm girls, identical twins Donna and Daisy, there was not a murmur in the house. Titmuss is her cool ice-maiden vice captain Jess, Amy Thompson the fragile WAG and Una McNulty the mouthy, tough best mate Fran.

Though it is unfair to single out one person – there is always a ‘man’ of the match: a close call between Hayley Tamaddon as loose-moraled solicitor Amber and Claire Eden. Both are hilarious. But this is a team effort and the whole production is a winner.