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Up 'n' Under


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A: John Godber Pf: 1984, Edinburgh Pb: 1985 G: Com. in 2 acts; prose and some verse S: Yorkshire, 1980s C: 6 m, 1fIn a pastiche of the prologue to Romeo and Juliet Frank introduces Rugby League, the northern working-class and amateur version of rugby football. Former rugger star Arthur Hoyle bets £3,000 with Reg Welsh that he can train any team in five weeks to beat the reigning champions, the Cobblers. Reg names the Wheatsheaf from near Hull, a team that has never won a match. The Wheatsheaf play a match with only four men and lose heavily. Arthur tries to get the team to train but they prefer their beer. Arthur meets the attractive Hazel, who owns a gym, and suddenly the men become interested in getting fit. When they learn that they are training to win a bet for Arthur, they almost quit, but come back provided they can share any winnings. Reg arranges a bye to the final, and the Wheatsheaf have to square up to the formidable Cobblers, with Hazel now on the team. At the end of an exciting match, The Wheatsheaf are defeated by one point, but they are now inspired to go on and win the next time.

A: John Godber Pf: 1984, Edinburgh Pb: 1985 G: Com. in 2 acts; prose and some verse S: Yorkshire, 1980s C: 6 m, 1f

Brecht for one wanted his theatre to be as exciting as sport, while encouraging a critical viewpoint. Plays like McGee's Foreskin's Lament, Greenberg's Take Me Out, and Godber's Up 'n' Under all focus on sporting events, generating involvement in the audience but also celebrating human achievement. Godber, in 1993 the third most produced playwright in Britain, here celebrates rough northern camaraderie, which cuts across gender and class (Phil is a teacher), contrasting with Rugby Union, which is identified with upper-class institutions, professional competitions, and southern complacency.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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