And Did Those Feet (starring Chris Finch)

Joanna

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And Did Those Feet official synopsis

What do you do when you're due to be married on FA Cup Final day - and even the vicar wants to go to the match?

 

It's 1923 and Martha Platt's wedding plans are falling to pieces as friends and neighbours, including fiance Ted Aspinall, can talk of nothing but the Wanderers' shot at glory, whilst Ted's brother, Jim, dreams of revolution on the street of Bolton. Local newsagent Bob Stott announces he's walking to Wembley - bedecked in the navy blue and white ribbons and wearing brand new irons on his clogs, will he really manage 200 miles in just 6 days?

 

For Hilda and Alf Hilton, life hasn't been the same since 1918, when the telegram came from the War Office with the worst possible news. Can anything lift the clouds?

 

In 48 years the Trotters have been in the final twice and lost both times - can they actually win against West Ham United? With less than a week to go, the brand new Wembley Stadium is still incomplete - will it be ready on time?! And was it a good idea to employ 120 boy scouts to control an expected crowd of 120,000?

 

Set in Bolton in the early 1920's, a time of great political and social change leading to upheaval and divisions in the town, And Did Those Feet is a heartwarming, funny and inspiring play about the passion for 'the beautiful game' and its ability to bring people and communities together, and how the residents of one Bolton street resolve their differences and unite behind their team.

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Thought Chris's new play, And Did Those Feet, deserved its own thread on here. There's then somewhere where people can comment/discuss/review it, etc, if they'd like to. And speaking of reviews, they've already begun to come in. Couldn't have had a better start, either...including for Chris's part in it......

Wanderers premiere worthy of a cup final

 

And Did Those Feet, Octagon Theatre, Bolton.

 

Until October 20, Tickets 01204 520661.

 

I FELT like running on. It was like really being there. Wembley Stadium, 1923 and all that.

 

It's very rare a play sucks you in so much that you become lost in the lives of its characters, but And Did Those Feet, written by University of Bolton lecturers Les Smith and Martin Thomasson and specially commissioned for the Octagon's 40th anniversary celebrations, did just that.

 

Events unfold around the Wanderers' progress to Wembley and a Bolton family who all eventually make it down to London for the big day.

 

Martha Platt, played in a suitably endearing style by Hayley Jane Standing, is due to marry witty boyfriend Ted, brilliantly portrayed by Jeff Hordley.

 

There's a problem - ee by eck, the wedding's planned for t'same day as t'cup final.

 

It'll be all right though because the whole of Bolton, including the vicar, is off to London.

 

Ted's brother, Jim, spends his time dreaming of revolution on the streets of Bolton, but, despite political differences with Martha and Ted, and the fact that his Communist leanings see him out of a job, he will make it to their wedding and is determined to stand alongside his family at Wembley.

 

Paul Simpson adds a suitably cheeky touch to his character, and his banter with Jeff Hordley works superbly.

 

A special word must go to Martin Barrass, who, as newsagent Bob Stott, adds some great touches of humour as he walks to Wembley.

 

Chris Finch, whose character Billy has died in the war, and James Quinn and Susan Twist, as his parents Alf and Hilda, also deserve a mention for their great contributions.

 

The narration is also wonderful, with news clips and a lovely scene where the acting speeds up in time with the old-fashioned film reels adding special touches. Mark Babych's direction is spot on and the simple stage design doesn't detract from the action.

 

Local references and accents add to the warmth of the production, which gives you a real taste of life in the town back when the Wanderers' David Jack lifted the gloom for the down-on-their-luck mill workers with his cup final goal.

 

A wold premiere worthy of the name. (Review by Andrew Mosley)

And from The Octagon Blog....

Bolton Win FA Cup Final!

 


And Did Those Feet, the story of Bolton's journey the the 1923 FA Cup Final, opened last night and seems to have been well-received by the audience. Apparently some die-hard BWFC fans even turned up in full kit, such is their dedication!


 

I managed to to get a look in at the dress rehearsal and despite my apathetic approach to football, there was plenty in this production to keep my attention. The clogging is great and I loved the homage to silent movies that were so popular at the time! On the subject of movies, I hope to upload a 'talkie' about the production next week, so you can have a look.

And accompanying the above are some production stills (I assume from the dress rehearsal)....Night fever, nigh...... :D

View attachment 133 Chris Finch as Billy

View attachment 134 Jeff Hordley as Ted

View attachment 135

Clockwise from left: Susan Twist (Hilda Hilton), Paul Simpson (Jim Aspinall), Hayley Jane Standing (Martha Platt), Jeff Hordley (Ted Aspinall), Martin Barrass (Bob Stott) and James Quinn (Alf Hilton)

As it runs at the Bolton Octagon till 20 October, there's obviously still time to book tickets for it. Play details/booking info can be found HERE.

Must say that everything I've read on the play is making me look forward to seeing it even more. Does sound like a really enjoyable and involving piece of theatre full of characters to care about and root for. So, for those not yet sure about heading up to Bolton to see this, I'd say it sounds like it'd definitely make a trip or two to see it more than worthwhile. Plug, plug, plug....

xx Joanna xx

PS: How many autographs did we say for ebay, Chris?

Chris as Billy.jpg

Jeff as Ted.jpg

Cast minus Chris.jpg

Chris as Billy.jpg

Jeff as Ted.jpg

Cast minus Chris.jpg
 

Strawbs

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#2
Where did this suddenly spring from? :confused:

Sounds good - even though I'm a West Ham fan and obviously know the outcome :rolleyes: ;) . Shame I won't be able to come and see it, unless it goes on tour. Ahh well.

Have a good run Chris. :)
 

Fran

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#3
As usual a thorough informative little write up Joanna. Thank you. :)

Got my ticketsss. ;)

Great to see it getting such good reviews so early on as well! :)
 

wiggy

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I think we should have a Bar stewards trip to see this, maybe even wear a blackburn kit for the event or everton if you swing that way! are we allowed to heckle or will we be whizzed out?
 

Joanna

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Just seen another good review of the play (The British Theatre Guide). And the reviewer, David Chadderton, can only praise the 'excellent cast' of this 'well-written comedy'....

Director Mark Babych has assembled an excellent cast for his production. As Ted, Jeff Hordley shows some superb comic timing and delivery—his hesitations and expressions when he finds out about the clash between the final and his wedding are just perfect—matched by great comic performances from Paul Simpson as Jim and Hayley Jane Standing as Martha. Martin Barrass also produces a fine comic performance and a loveable character as Bob with some hilarious monologues as he travels the country. There are also good performances from Susan Twist and James Quinn as Hilda and Alf and Chris Finch as the ghost of their son Billy.

And to accompany THIS Lancashire Telegraph print interview with Jeff Hordley is a video interview with him (same interviews over at the Preston and Leyland Citizen). The video one took place at Bolton Octagon, with the first bit being some brief promo for the play. And there are some interesting soundbites in there on his 'soap memories' and the positives/negatives of the acting profession.

xx Joanna xx
 

Fran

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Thanks Chris and well done you - all the reviews are really positive! :) :)

John Anson

"A first rate cast ensure that the audience experiences every emotion and like the White Horse Final, And Did Those Feet is destined to be remembered for years to come"

Whooo hooo! :) o_O
 

timpaley

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I think we should have a Bar stewards trip to see this
I think we should get one organised Wiggy. I'll get the sharabang and do the driving. Might even stop off at chippy on way home, go mad eh?

If you're up for in (Blackburn/Darwen/Accy areas, Send me a message with preferred date and we'll sort it.
 

Joanna

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#10
Chris Finch said:
heh heh, thought i'd beat you to it with this one Joanna ;)
Yep, on all four, Chris (except it was Burnley and Pendle for me rather than Blackburn!)!! Only on here, though. ;)

Anyway, great reviews. Seems to have really captured people's imaginations. And how's this for an opener to that review that Fran quoted from?....

AS a way of celebrating its 40th anniversary season, the Octagon could not have come up with a better production than this.

And lol at 'This may not be Shakespeare...' from The Stage review! :p

xx Joanna xx
 

Joanna

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Found THIS nice, insightful Beeb interview with the play's co-writers, Les Smith and Martin Thomasson.

xx Joanna xx
 

LovelyLaura

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Good luck with the play Chris....not that you need it though with those fantastic reviews! :)

Wish I could come and see it but won't be possible, I'm afraid :( I was actually in Manchester over the weekend and wanted to pop over to Bolton to see it but I didn't have time in the end :(

Ah well, I am looking forward to Joanna's very detailed review! :):p :) The kind that makes you feel like you were actually there ;) Go on, you know you want to Joanna :p :)
 

Joanna

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LovelyLaura said:
Ah well, I am looking forward to Joanna's very detailed review! :):p :) The kind that makes you feel like you were actually there ;) Go on, you know you want to Joanna :p :)
'Very detailed'?! :eek: 'The kind that makes you feel like you were actually there'?! :eek: No pressure there, then! :rolleyes: :D Laura, you ain't half got a cruel streak in you (and Angie, too, if you're reading this!!)!! :p I'll post summat on my return, but don't build any hopes up at all on the 'very detailed' part! How about a very short post that's very detailed?! :p ;) Lol, Laura, haven't even seen it yet! :rolleyes: :D

xx Joanna xx
 

Cop

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wiggy said:
I think we should have a Bar stewards trip to see this, maybe even wear a blackburn kit for the event or everton if you swing that way! are we allowed to heckle or will we be whizzed out?
I know somebody will certainly not be wearing a Blackburn kit... :cool:

By the way, I was on the verge of getting thrown out of a London boozer last night with Fiona, from the staight8 crew for chanting Burnley songs... :confused: o_O :cool:)

Seeing Chris' new play will be on the agenda for when I get back though...
 

Strawbs

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Cop said:
By the way, I was on the verge of getting thrown out of a London boozer last night with Fiona, from the staight8 crew for chanting Burnley songs... :confused: o_O :cool:)
You did what in a London boozer? Do you not watch The Bill? Such things can lead to a riot you crazy bastard! ;)
 

Booth

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Cop said:
Seeing Chris' new play will be on the agenda for when I get back though...
Any chance you could put finishing off our film on the agenda too ;)
 

Joanna

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There's yet another wonderful review of the play over at the Lancashire Evening Post. The reviewer, David Upton, absolutely loved it, saying how he found it 'breath-takingingly clever', how it had an 'intensely-moving and brilliantly-funny narrative', how it managed to 'juggle themes of social and economic change with ease', etc, etc... And he ends with....

Naturally it helps that it is playing here with an exuberant home crowd, but it would be a shame if a play as good as this remained simply a local triumph.

 

Just see it before October 20.

Well, I know from attending the post show Q&A on Tuesday that it won't be touring. And I agree that that's a shame, as I found it to be a play that has so much going for it that it deserves a wider audience.

So yes, I was there watching the play on Tuesday night. Got to meet the writers and most of the cast (all lovely) afterwards, too, as well as having a catch up with Chris. Was a really enjoyable evening.

As for the play itself, I found it to be as wonderful as its reviewers have been saying it is. It had sharp, focused and intelligent dialogue that was by turns funny, serious and affecting. And this was brought powerfully to life by a great ensemble cast who just worked off each other so well. Don't really want to single anybody out, as every last person on that stage (Chris, Martin Barrass, Paul Simpson, Jeff Hordley, Hayley Jane Standing, James Quinn and Susan Twist) brought their own depths to their characters - characters who were all so very different.

Chris's scenes were very poignant and had real heart to them. The way the writers dealt with not just the loss Billy's parents still felt at his passing (Billy was a promising young footballer who had died in WW1) but at what Billy himself had lost was nicely pitched and cleverly written. You have to have a decent cast, though, to back up this writing, and this play had that in Chris, James (Billy's father) and Susan (Billy's mother).

The play also contained some lovely touches. For instance, there's a great homage in there to the newsreels of the time, where they had the cast doing slow motion/home movie style reactions to the football match they were attending as newsreel captions played out behind them. And I loved how they had characters grouped together, passionately summarising Bolton Wanderers matches as the club passed through each stage of the FA Cup. And you even get the cast tap dancing in clogs (though this doesn't involve Chris!)! Brilliant stuff.

So I really can't recommend this play highly enough. It's a play that everyone involved with should be rightly proud of. I loved it and can't wait to go back to see it on the 13th.

For anyone interested in going to see the play, there are details of both the play itself and how to book tickets for it HERE. Enjoy!

xx Joanna xx
 

Joanna

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In today's print edition of the Daily Mail, there's a great review (yep, another one!) of the play from Quentin Letts (p62). He gives it 5 stars out of 5 and has as his 'verdict' that it's a 'Home win!'.

Accompanying the review is a large version of THIS pic of Chris as Billy. On the left of the pic, it says, in as huge text as the pic itself, "It's a funny old play, Ron". Then it's captioned "The happy wanderer: Chris Finch in the Bolton football drama And Did Those Feet."

Can't find it on the Mail's online site, so here's a type up....

Why do we love football? Bolton's Octagon, spurning the convention that theatre people pooh-pooh 'footy', offers answers with a funny, inventive, often moving new play.

 

Bolton Wanderers reached the FA Cup Final in 1923, the first game played at the Empire Stadium (the old Wembley). The crowd was so vast that a policeman on a white horse had to clear the pitch.

 

What drew scores of thousands of hard-up Lancastrians to London that day? The title of And Did Those Feet, taken from the hymnal, shows that the zeal released by footballing devotion has an almost religious flavour.

 

Les Smith and Martin Thomasson's play charts the mounting of excitement among a small group of Boltonians as their team progress through that year's Cup. One man walks to each of the games, covering hundreds of miles in his clogs (he actually existed).

 

When he reaches Yorkshire en route to the Huddersfield game, he swears he encounters a 'border post' on the county line. Even today the rivalry of the Roses pumps hard and the audience loved the swipes about 'Yorkies'.

 

A bride-to-be realises, to her horror, that her wedding will clash with the Final. "The vicar's got a ticket", she wails. And what of a couple whose only son, once a gifted Wanderers player, died on the Western Front? Can they bear to go to the big match? Might football heal their grief?

 

The Octagon's cast of seven perform beautifully, never descending into hokum. I could of done with more clog dancing, but apparently one of the actors had a bad foot.

 

Any father who has taken his boy to a match may find it hard to fight back the tears at certain moments. Any woman baffled by football's appeal will appreciate the line about '11 men in their underwear kicking a ball'.

 

But even she, in the end, is won over by football's ties of comradeship, by its ability to give needy people something to cheer.

(And thanks to Flukie over on Snared for the heads-up on this review).

xx Joanna xx
 

Fran

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#19
Joanna said:
(And thanks to Flukie over on Snared for the heads-up on this review).

xx Joanna xx
Thanks Flukie! :) And thanks Joanna for the text! Got a copy and haven't stopped smiling since. This is brill! I'm so pleased it's getting so many great reviews and now in a mainstream paper! :)
 
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