Tag Archives: William Gaminara

“The Three Lions” at the St James Theatre

One of the funniest plays I’ve seen in a long time, William Gaminara’s The Three Lions imagines the meeting of David Cameron, Prince William and David Beckham, as they campaign for England to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Every ounce of comic potential in the scenario is exploited and the play opens up to be about far more than football – politics, power, celebrity and compromise – all perfect sport for excellent satire.

The material is superb and the demanding mix of one-liners and farce played expertly. Ably supported by Antonia Kinlay, as Cameron’s gushing PR, and Ravi Aujla, as a suspiciously effusive hotel employee, the three leads give a winning hat-trick of performances. All embrace the caricatured, public faces of these famous men, so the portraits convincingly duplicate what we think we know about Cameron’s slickness, William’s blandness or Beckham’s intellect.

Tom Davey has the hardest job as Prince William, a generic nice-but-dim, but reveals a taste for practical jokes perfectly. Cameron comes out well, with Dugald Bruce-Lockhart’s careful study of a leader new to power and struggling with it already. A scene where Cameron swaps trousers with Beckham caused so much laughter I missed some lines. Stealing the show is Séan Browne’s Beckham. And not just because of the casting coup of an uncanny physical resemblance. As soon as Browne opens his mouth he has won the audience and there are countless times when Beckham’s idiotic replies are deftly handled.

While Gaminara’s targets might be easy, there’s nothing mean spirited about The Three Lions. And there’s a healthy undercurrent of anger about the abuses of power that are the play’s real concern. The text has a mass of gags and it’s Philip Wilson’s direction that ensures its success. There must be a football metaphor for how sure his work is: never taking his eye off the ball and scoring with each line. Simply insert your favourite football manager here to praise his work. Not that an interest in the game is needed to enjoy this beautifully crafted piece: huge fun, superbly done, Premier League stuff.

Until 2 May 2015


Photo by Craig Sugden

“The Body of an American” at the Gate Theatre

The Body of an American, which opened last night at the Gate Theatre, is an intriguing docudrama. Written by Dan O’Brien, it explores his friendship with the war reporter and photographer Paul Watson. Focusing on Watson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a butchered American soldier in Mogadishu in 1993, O’Brien’s questioning of the older man’s motivation is matched by an examination of his own life and work.

The play and production are ingenious. William Gaminara and Damien Molony perform as Paul and Dan, but they also share each other’s lines (this works better than it sounds), as well as taking on a host of minor roles. Performed in traverse, photographs by both men are projected and create a companion dialogue.

While impeccably directly by the talented James Dacre, the piece comes perilously close to being overwhelming. What makes it so absorbing is that it seems such a collaboration between writer and subject. The latter’s memoir is credited as an inspiration and his voice is rendered so convincingly by O’Brien that he almost becomes dominant. But it’s really two stories. O’Brien reveals much of himself: like his friend he is haunted by events, and he skilfully creates an uneasy question as to the reliability of his ‘reporting’.

The terrifying events and atrocities that make up Watson’s work naturally make better drama. The fact that the stakes are so different are always acknowledged – think Hemingway meets Henry James – but the imbalance between the jobs leaves you questioning your own position. O’Brien’s struggle to make sense of Watson’s life, and make a play about it, creates a link with us all. His blend of passion and perspicacity makes this an unusual play that’s well worth watching.

Until 14 February 2014


Photo by Simon Dutson

Written 21 January 2014 for The London Magazine