Review: We Love You City, at B2, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
Coventry City’s unexpected FA Cup triumph in 1987 was a near-perfect demonstration of the mythic power for which the competition was once renowned.
The game itself was an enthralling spectacle of attacking football from Spurs and City, who snatched victory in extra time. And then there was the wider context of what the victory meant to a city which had been battered by recession.
It’s this bigger picture that Nick Walker’s play explores. The show is split into 50-minute halves, with the real-time events at Wembley, staged with excerpts from John Motson’s commentary, woven into the stories of three young men wandering the streets in search of a television on which to watch the game.
Then there is Gemma, one of the nurses bracing themselves for match-day casualties at Walsgrave Hospital, who is about to break off her relationship with the boyfriend who has failed to get her a Wembley ticket, unaware he has sacrificed the game in order to propose.
And throughout, Michelle describes her lonely walk through the deserted Coventry streets, on her way to the hospital and an unexpected and poignant tying-up of her story with that of blue-suited Stephen, who is watching the game at Wembley.
At times it does resort to stereotype, it can be a touch heavy-handed on social issues and you could say it’s a little sentimental. But no-one who has inherited the football tribal gene would expect anything else.
Running time: Two hours. Until October 16.