Far from the MCC

~ Est. in 1998 ~

 

 

“Curtain Raiser Flops
As Goliath Blacks David’s Eyes

 

 

Match:  11 / 220

Lost by 200 runs

 

 

Team

 

Total

Horspath CC

300 - 5

G. Timms  2 - 27

 

FFTBL

100

L. Ainsworth  51,  I. Howarth  28

 

 

 

 

In the lead up to the Oxford summer theatre season, decent ticket sales were reported in the quaint and leafy village of Horspath. Queues were hardly snaking around the block, but box office assistant Marlene Herewegoagain was happy to declare that “despite reports in the local press that the current economic climate might adversely dampen interest in the production of ‘David v Goliath’, Oxford had bucked the trend with families of all ages snapping up tickets in advance to see this now early summer spectacle from the highly touted acting guilds of the Cherwell Supremos and the Far from the Broadway Lights.”

 

 

 

Members of the ‘Far from the Broadway Lights’ acting guild.

 

 

Last year’s show, despite an acting tour de force from Australian, A. Gibbins, failed to capitalise on its ingenious prelude and clever beginnings, and in turn allowed itself to descend into farce and comedy as members of the FFTBL gave lightweight performances and failed to convince – despite a daring and original script overseen by veteran Shakespearian, M. Westmoreland.

 

This year the local press had been rather generous in proclaiming the FFTBL to have been in intense rehearsals for months – some members even undertaking marine training to boost fitness levels for the exhausting schedule. There were leaks to the contrary on the internet of course, in particular from actor and award-winning poet, A. Morley, who had Tweeted about “the pub being a far superior experience to all this unquantifiable practicing nonsense. Who the hell are all these dictators who serenade as Directors anyway? In super-strength lager I trust.”

 

 

 

Debutant L. Ainsworth (51) performed admirably on stage.

 

 

As with last year’s production, ‘David v Goliath’ was a stage-managed outdoor affair with seating spread out in a circle around a large, slightly sloping circular field. Perhaps influenced by Bangladesh’s struggles against the might of World Cricket since their inclusion into the ICC’s Test arena, this contemporary ensemble has us rooting for the underdog and believing the perhaps unbelievable; that a friendly Sunday cricket team can put paid to a mighty Oxfordshire juggernaut in Horspath CC. The biblical storyline of the title is parachuted into modern sporting culture and with it the hopes that ‘David’ can raise to the seemingly impossible task ahead.  Broken into two halves with eight diffident scenes in total – the first half of the play celebrates the sport in its purer nature, as the recognised performers despatch their opponents with impunity to all corners of the stage – the latter whereby ‘David’ dusts himself down and loads up his sling. During these slightly predictable opening scenes, there is time to admire the virtuoso performances of R. Eason (85) and J. Todd (53) as the impressive pyrotechnics record an ever increasing ‘Total’. But if ever the audience become disconcerted, or even bored, they are brought back into the script by some comedic and clown-like moments provided by FFTBL members – diving over the ‘ball’ in the outfield, and failing to back up shies at the ‘stumps’, which inevitably roll off the stage (or go for four in cricketing parlance).

 

 

 

FFTBL members hardly looked to have been in ‘Marine Training’….

 

 

More circus than theatre, ‘David v Goliath’ is probably a victim of its own premise – serving up a story that refuses to adhere to the original story of ‘David’, and simply allows the better lines to go to ‘Goliath’. Plot twists are all very well, but do we really need to reinvent the wheel? Whilst M. Meredith (44) joins his compatriot actors Eason and Todd in retiring with their wickets intact, lesser known characters such as G. Timms (2-27) and M. Bullock (1-10) are given bit-parts where they help to reinforce the impression of improbability by claiming ‘wickets’. Again, these are welcome moments for a beleaguered ‘David’, and maybe there should have been many more of them? It all feels very similar to last year’s plot where he took a shellacking as ‘Goliath’ pummelled his nose (in romping to an imposing 300-5 declared) before bashing him into a thousand pieces.

 

 

2011Apr17c

 

An impressive prop – an exact replica of the Horspath CC scorebox.

 

 

The Horspath theatre provided a healthy selection of alcoholic beverages and sandwiches at the break, and this particular reviewer took time in returning to his seat as he discussed the merits of the script with M. Westmoreland (who I found at the bar). An engaging and likeable chap, he did have misgivings in allowing Script Advisor, J. Hoskins, stretching the audiences belief to breaking point by having them believe ‘David’ would win in such circumstances – that a ‘positive mental attitude’ mindset would win the day. Again, an interesting side play, but perhaps lost in the realms of fiction rather than reality.

 

Scene 5, and the start of the second half of the play, is perhaps the best – as L. Ainsworth and I. Howarth (28) stand up in the face of hostilities from Goliath XI bowlers J. Mohammed and C. Holmes, and serve notice that this could be a rollercoaster storyline to triumph. There is even interaction with the audience as a pint-glass is sent tumbling by the ‘boundary’ to have imbedded actor, T. Smith, crying out at his misfortune and berating the batsmen. Unfortunate then, that after finally wresting the initiative and cementing it with applause which greets Ainsworth’s 50, the script should nose-dive once more into comic pathos and predictability. The last few scenes depict a hapless ‘David’, bloody and battered, and without a sliver of hope as he teeters out in the middle. This particular reviewer left during these final scenes as his childlike support for ‘David’ was crushed by FFTBL members receiving consistently rapturous applause as they strode to the wicket, chests pushed out, only to leave seconds later carrying a ridiculous yellow duck…. As far as props go, this was pathetic.

 

 

 

I. Howarth’s spirited performance (28) ran out of steam.

 

 

In summary then, sad and ultimately very disappointing. For such a novel idea, the play would surely benefit from ‘David’ at least finding a stone for his sling?

 

 

‘Derek Jacobi’

 

 

Media Review Section (excerpts thereof):

 

Total Theatre Magazine

 

“A physically diverse performance, combining live art, street art and circus into one pulsating hybrid entity. The maverick mix of two separate Acting Guilds providing an original tale of two halves – the Cherwell Supremo’s magnificent re-enactment of Scenes 1-4: A Slaughter of the Sunday Waifs, followed by the wholly underwhelming Scenes 5-8 from the FFTBL: A Cry for Help. Standout moment’s included Ainsworth championing the cause for ‘David’, and I. Leggate performing a miracle act of juggling a ‘ball’ on the boundary after just 3 minutes of sleep over an entire weekend – surely this guy has a future in the industry?”

 

The Stage

 

“This likeably performed, but technically wanton stage play, has some welcome moments that made the audience squeal with laughter and a few too many that had them sighing impatiently for the next scene to arrive. Are we really to believe that a team of pub cricketers, fresh from a night out with a Stag, are going to lay waste to a highly talented and championed League team? This whole sorry saga would be better played out in Hollywood – at least they have the CGI to have David throwing skyscrapers about.”

 

Encore

 

“Trotting out the nonsensical cliché that ‘if at first you don’t succeed, then try try again’, the combined guilds of the FFTBL and Cherwell Supremo’s failed in their perhaps overly ambitious attempt to woo the Oxford populace with a see-saw dramatisation depicting a group of low-brow pub cricketers topple the district’s champions elect. R. Eason enhanced his reputation with a mightily convincing display for ‘Goliath’, but who [in reality] was supplying the ammunition for ‘David’? James Pearson found small pebbles, Dave Shorten only sand, and despite a sizeable rock from Jon Newman, many of the cast were left sifting through hedgerows and allotments without a stone in sight. Chris Roberts (1-28) enhanced his largely unsung credentials, whilst Westmoreland did not – one would expect much more from such a seasoned campaigner.”

 

 

 

Looking for divine intervention.

 

 

Didcot Herald

 

“The Vue Cinema is but a short taxi ride from the village of Horspath where this inept and ludicrously poor scripted affair was staged; and if one were to cough up the small fare, it can’t be argued you’d have enjoyed a more rewarding afternoon. The Far from the Broadway Lights are obviously punching well above their weight – and if they found themselves in an altercation at a children’s playgroup, there is little doubt they could well find themselves on their own backside.”

 

Oxford Times

 

“Having traditionally entertained my children at Christmas with a journey to the theatre, I can perhaps be forgiven for thinking they would lap this early Spring offering up. ‘David v Goliath’ is neither uplifting, nor entertaining, and I regretfully must inform you that my daughter, Beatrice, was in tears long before the end – though these were far from being tears of laughter. How can an audience empathise with ‘David’ – when this incompetent, bumbling rag-tag collective fail at every hurdle? Who on earth wrote this script?”

 

Nightshift

 

“Like what the fuck? I’ll stick with a crap pint in a squeezy plastic glass watching a half-decent band at the O2, thanks.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

*

 

 

Statto Scorecards

 

 

 

Far from the MCC versus Horspath CC

Played at Horspath, 17 April 2011

 

Far from the MCC won the toss and elected to field

Horspath CC won by 200 runs

 

Far from the MCC debuts:  Lee Grant Ainsworth (114) and Jon Newman-Robson (115)

 

 

11 / 220

 

 

 

 

 

Timed match

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team

Horspath CC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#

 

Batsman

How Out

Total

Balls

4s

6s

FOW

1

R. Eason *

retired

85

 

13

1

-

2

D. Watts

b Roberts

21

 

4

-

1-86

3

J. Todd +

retired

53

 

6

2

-

4

B. Henderson

b Timms

33

 

3

1

2-219

5

M. Meredith

retired

44

 

5

1

-

6

C. Thompson

c Leggate b Timms

10

 

-

1

3-256

7

G. Handley

st Hotson b Bullock

11

 

1

-

4-290

8

H. Moon

c Westmoreland b Ainsworth

7

 

1

-

5-300

9

M. John

not out

7

 

1

-

 

10

C. Holmes

 

 

 

 

 

 

11

J. Mohammed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extras

(NB1, W9, LB1, B18)

29

 

 

 

 

 

TOTAL

(for 5 wickets, 40.1 overs)

300

 

 

 

 

 

 

#

 

Bowler

Overs

Maidens

Runs

Wkts

 

1

Shorten

6

0

32

0

 

2

Pearson

4

0

34

0

 

3

Newman

6

0

38

0

 

4

Roberts

5

0

28

1

 

5

Westmoreland

4

0

38

0

 

6

Leggate

3

0

32

0

 

7

Howarth

4

1

22

0

 

8

Timms

5

0

27

2

 

9

Ainsworth

2.1

0

17

1

 

10

Bullock

1

0

10

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team

Far from the MCC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#

 

Batsman

How Out

Total

Balls

4s

6s

FOW

1

I. Howarth

c Handley b Holmes

28

(35)

6

-

1-53

2

L. G. Ainsworth

c and b Eason

51

(64)

9

-

8-100

3

C. D. Roberts

b Holmes

0

(3)

-

-

2-53

4

D. Shorten

c Todd b Moon

0

(13)

-

-

3-62

5

J. Newman-Robson

b Meredith

0

(5)

-

-

4-63

6

M. Bullock

b John

6

(18)

1

-

5-77

7

M. T. Westmoreland *

c Mohammed b Meredith

0

(4)

-

-

6-84

8

J. W. Pearson

b John

7

(8)

1

-

7-92

9

I. C. Leggate

b Handley

2

(8)

-

-

10-100

10

G. J. Timms

b Eason

0

(3)

-

-

9-100

11

J. C. W. Hotson +

not out

0

(1)

-

-

-

 

Extras

(W3, B3)

6

 

 

 

 

 

TOTAL

(all out, 27 overs)

100

 

 

 

 

 

 

#

 

Bowler

Overs

Maidens

Runs

Wkts

 

1

Mohammed

7

0

31

0

 

2

Holmes

7

2

29

2

 

3

Moon

3

0

7

1

 

4

Meredith

4

1

13

2

 

5

John

3

1

7

2

 

6

Eason

2

0

9

2

 

7

Handley

1

1

0

1

 

 

 

 

 

MOTM:  L. G. Ainsworth

Champagne Moment:  I. C. Leggate’s remarkable boundary catch at long on

Buffet Award:  I. C. Leggate’s vanilla and chocolate ice-cream (with fruit)

 

 

Opposition:  V057 / 02

Ground:  G046 / 02

Captain:  C011 / 45