THE RUGBY TOUR

Fri 5th – Sat 13th August 2016

reviews

Amy Mace

at 11:10 on 9th Aug 2016

1agrees

3disagrees

‘The Rugby Tour’ is a farcical comedy, which does exactly what it says on the flyer. One look at the five middle-aged men, sweat bands hugging balding heads and tins of beer in hand, accurately suggests the kind of hour you are in for. No stone was left unturned regarding stereotypical and one-dimensional adherents to lad culture, and the utter drivel being spouted on stage was a great representation of the casual misogyny and homophobia that such a culture propagates.

That is certainly one possible stance, and one that does ring true if the play is taken too seriously. The other, however, is that writer James Ogg’s unflattering characterisations of stereotypical lads and their immature banter provide refreshing light relief amidst a culture and arts festival whose often over-intellectualised, over-ambitious and simply sombre output can be a little difficult to swallow. This show never tries to be anything it isn’t, or indeed apologise for what it is. It certainly fills a gap in the Fringe’s market for a low-brow, late night, easy piece of ‘theatre’ (pantomime?) for the boys after a few pints, even if the gags about menstrual cycles and ‘sanny’s’ may affront their girlfriends.

Moments such as these were distasteful and led to frequent discomfort, not least because we represented a clear gender minority in this particular audience. The language, particularly regarding women, their bodies, and homosexuality, was unsavoury to say the least, contributing to an image of the Old Fatonians Rugby Club that centred on immaturity, ignorance, and sometimes plain stupidity. But this was the stereotype that Ogg was playing up to, and therefore the lazy and crude ‘banter’ should be taken with a pinch of salt. Ogg is not necessarily trying to promote such a culture, but mock its ridiculousness by way of a simple script, simple staging, and even simpler characters.

It often felt as if the actors playing Turk, Johnno, Pete, Gippy and Zig (yes, really) are reliving a youth long forgotten, just as much as the Old Fatonians' return to Magaluf is fuelled by nostalgia. But it looks like they are having a lot of fun on stage, the inspiration to write quite possibly the product of a drunken bet determinedly committed to, or simply a joke taken so far that it reached Scotland.

Although it is at times a little embarrassing to see five middle-aged men of various shapes and sizes prancing around to Carly Rae Jepsen, the raucous Rugby Tour definitely has its place at the Fringe. If you can overlook a very questionable Polish accent and get over objectifying bus chants you might enjoy it, the mind-numbing effect of such infantile am-dram not entirely unwelcome.

agree
disagree

Becky Wilson

at 11:43 on 9th Aug 2016

1agrees

3disagrees

‘The Rugby Tour’ promises ‘foolishness, stupidity and brutal male banter’. Punters who enjoy that kind of thing will not be disappointed. This is a predictable, grisly tale of five men from a failing rugby club going on a lad’s trip to Magaluf.

With character names like ‘Polish Pete’ and ‘Zigzag’ (“because he’s not straight”) this play is abounding in tired stereotypes. Brian Madden, who plays Pete, has the worst accent I think I’ve ever heard: not only is it not Polish, but his lines are half-mangled and unintelligible. His acting isn’t much better: he never once emerges from an exaggerated sulk. Although, perhaps, this is a deliberate attempt to fulfil the rude Polish stereotype, it isn’t remotely believable, and leaves the play with an unpleasant bitterness which jars the largely uplifting tone.

The explicit, sexist songs, performed by a group of mainly middle-aged men, take on a level of crudeness which surpasses even that of The Inbetweeners. Moreover, they fail to use set or staging in any remotely dynamic way. They have clearly spent time on the costumes, though, which perfectly epitomise the tacky brits abroad culture.

Kris MacJames, who plays the posh boy caricature Gippy, is single-handedly responsible for lifting the show. His comic timing is spot on, and he thrives at conveying both shallow banter, and brief, genuinely heartfelt glimpses into an unhappy childhood. What’s best about MacJames, however, are his sarcastic, self-aware asides. Asked to convert euros into pounds, he momentarily slips out of character to make a panicked disclaimer to the audience: “that was the conversion rate at the time of writing this show, Brexit changes may apply”. And he is under no illusions about the predictability of the story, interjecting at its conclusion with a deliciously deadpan “wow, I genuinely, genuinely didn’t see this coming”.

This shallow, coarse comedy offering, placed alongside plays which explore more complex notions of gender and sexuality, is testament to the diversity of the Fringe. There is, of course, space – and demand - at the festival for this show, which throws political correctness and manners completely out of the window. But I would steer well clear of it if, like me, you’re not a big fan of poo jokes.

agree
disagree

Comments

Paul Willis; 10th Aug 2016; 13:17:59

There is an old saying in rugby; "What goes on tour, stays on tour". There will be many who having seen this play might agree. However the Surgeon's Hall is not the Old Vic and this is just the place for a show like this; the story must be told. So what is the story? Well the, to some, cringe making songs and dialog, and the all too real stereotypes, are there for a reason. Some of this material is only true to life insomuch as the stories have been told; not that they are true In themselves. This is a story about how rugby is a game of fellowship for men and for women - try saying otherwise in any university sports soc and the sisterhood will get you. It's about how that fellowship overcomes homophobia and the effects of childhood trauma too. It's about how it's almost impossible not to respect someone you have shared a pitch with - though there are exceptions.

If you have ever played the game you should see the play, but probably leave your maiden aunt at home.

Stuart Brame; 11th Aug 2016; 08:28:15

Reading these reviews reminds me of two school girls copying homework. I almost added "silly,little" but as I know very little of reviewing I won't make assumptions - take note ladies!

Stuart Brame; 11th Aug 2016; 09:26:17

Having been on 34 rugby tours, having watched this play in Manchester, here with my wife (yes wife - not life partner of significant other) in the company of an almost full room of rugby types and wives which had big laughs from all there (except two giggly girls at the back embarrassed at their lack of understanding of the subject) I could not disagree more strongly with the diatribe of the so called reviewers. As a regular at the fringe may I ask "where else should we have such a play as The Rugby Tour? It's a parady! It's not a drama. You missed the point by a country mile. As a minority group of outcast white, upper working class men where else have we? For goodness sake - homophobia? You fools! This play shows male bonding at its best and absolute. Gippy was one of the team and as such protected and welcommed. Criticise Polish Pete's accent if you wish - but let's see you up there with your best foreign dialect? I went to the BBC tent last night to see an Indian woman gratuitously shouting the word cu**, an Aussie woman vomiting and incoherently screaming - I hated it. BUT if there's one place for that it's here even at the BBC! May I suggest tour reviewers may have given that a good review? The Rugby Tour is a bloody good laugh if you know anything about the subject. I'm off to see a performance about the First feminist suffraget martyr. A story I will give a balanced chance. The Rugby Tour is a bawdy silly parody of blokes being able to misbehave in good company. It embraces friendship, acceptance, team spirit and understanding at its heart.

Phil Mackay; 15th Aug 2016; 00:23:06

Having visited the festival for over 30 years, both on business and leisure I can safely say that this an absolute prime example of what is drastically going wrong with this once amazing festival. I am almost bewildered at these reviews. We are all under no illusion that the Edinburgh festival favours a more upper class performance, and the working class are shunned off like a laughing stock, but this review is simply either, factually incorrect or a deliberate attempt to halt the development of, what I believe to be, a new exciting display of theatre.

This group of performers (not middle aged as two of the are in their twenties) come together to create a show, the genre of which is blatantly obvious from the beginning. Aside from the fact its called 'the rugby tour' it states on the poster as an advertisement..."slapstick stupidity." That simply has to be taken into account when reviewing the show, as you are clearly there to see a show that is to ENTERTAIN. The show I saw certainly did. The audience were laughing together and even joining in with chants. It was a magnificently entertaining show, and dare I even say it a breath of fresh air after a long day of 'deep meaning' shows.

My absolute main issue with these two questionable reviewers, is how can you claim that this show is in anyway sexist or homophobic. That truly proves that these two missed the main point of the show. It is not there to embrace any sort of hatred or prejudice but rather prod a bit of fun at people who do genuinely have these views. A very half and half gendered audience next to me would most likely agree.

It is purely by chance that I stumbled upon this review, but I certainly wont take any review of 'edfringereview' serious from this point and I would urge anyone else not to.

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