A hilarious and heartwarming comedy about football, friendship and finding your way.

Barely Athletic are a bottom-of-the-ladder queer five-a-side soccer team in a local LGBTQI+ amateur league in Hull, England.

Publican Viv, the player-coach, was thrown out of Lesbian Rovers for being too bossy. Her brother-in-law Joe, the team’s token straight guy, is seriously unfit – and grieving the recent death of his wife. Beardy Geoff, a gay busker with dreams of Hull Pride stardom, has a weakness for sex with opposing players.

And shy library assistant Luke only joined because he’s got a crush on sports science student Danny, who’s struggling with his own issues.

Though on-field success is what they’re after, how these five very different personalities support each other off the field lies at the heart of this unsentimental, utterly charming, feel-good story.

The show is directed by Alice Livingstone, whose previous Mardi Gras productions for New Theatre and elsewhere include Bent, Blowing Whistles, Mother Clap’s Molly House, Privates on Parade, The Little Dog Laughed, and My Night With Reg), with a creative team including Tom Bannerman (set design), Mehran Mortezaei (lighting design) and Bella Rose Saltearn (costume design).

The cast of five comprises Nick Curnow (Take Me Out, My Night With Reg), Emma Louise (Canary, The Women), Sam Martin (The Other End of the Afternoon), and New Theatre debutantes Jared Stephenson (recently relocated from Perth) and Isaac Broadbent (currently entertaining Sydney audiences as ‘Toad’ in The Wind in the Willows). 

Says Alice: “This play has been on the New’s radar for several years, but the rights have always proved elusive. Last year, Artistic Director Louise Fischer made another application to secure them – and voila! Success.

“I was very excited when I heard the news, as I’ve wanted to direct this play since first reading it. What particularly appeals to me is its humanity, how lovely the characters are, and how easy it is to relate to their situation. Plus, it’s very, very funny!”

Playwright Tom Wells, in an interview with an American journalist in 2015, gave a beautiful insight into the essence of the play:

“My experience of being gay has been that everyone’s a bit messy and you’re just friends, and for me, that was the thing that made me feel a sense of belonging, the first group of gay and lesbian friends that I had that felt like you were part of this community…Being let into a world and feeling a sense of togetherness is a massive strength of the gay community, but it isn’t always realized, or there’s a risk that it’s taken for granted and not appreciated.

“I feel like most of my life has not dealt with huge epic problems but with small things you worry around and navigate, often unspoken. But to you, inside, they mean a lot. You attach significance to them. So I think that feels—hopefully, that feels truthful when people are watching it. It feels like there’s a thing that they can recognize about themselves even if it’s not the same story.”

Jumpers for Goalposts continues New Theatre’s commitment to presenting stories that speak to the LGBTQI+ community during the annual Mardi Gras festival (this year, combined with Sydney WorldPride). This tradition started with The Boys in the Band in 1994.

This commitment was recognised with the receipt of the 2016 ACON Honour Award for Arts & Entertainment. The citation read: “New Theatre has provided a unique platform for LGBTQI+ stories to be told on the stage and fostered the careers of hundreds of LGBTQI+ theatre practitioners. New Theatre has been nominated for their 25-year commitment to LGBTQI+ content and productions for the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras and for recognising diverse sexualities and genders as an important demographic within the theatre’s community and audience.”
[And for those who are wondering what the title means…the term Jumpers for Goalposts comes from pick-up soccer games in the UK played in the street, where jumpers (or other objects) are placed on the ground to indicate the goalposts.]

Preview Tuesday 7 February 7:30 pm
Opening Night Wednesday 8 February, 7:30 pm
Thursdays – Saturdays 7:30 pm
Sundays 5 pm
Sat 25 February & Saturday 4 March 2 pm only

Full $35
Concessions, Groups (6+) $30
Preview & Thrifty Thursdays $22