Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023 Theatre Review: Pitch (Pleasance Courtyard) ★★★★

Following the Qatar World Cup controversy and the recognition finally being given to the Women’s game, Pitch is a well-timed and necessary play about the queer community’s relationship to football.

Elizabeth Hope, Eleanor Rattenbury, Meg Lewis, Ethan Pascal Peters and Elijah Harris in Pitch. Photo Credit: David Monteith-Hodge.

If there is one area that homophobia still has its feet firmly planted, it is in football. When 30% of fans admit that they’d find two men kissing at a match uncomfortable, and with transphobic narratives in the world press, Pitch imagines a future in which queer representation in football is more than just a debate over a rainbow armband.

The story follows a queer football team, founded by captain Squid (Ethan Pascal Peters) and goalkeeper Amy (Elizabeth Hope), and filled out by defender Chlo (Meg Lewis), striker Kate (Eleanor Rattenbury), and newcomer Bill (Elijah Harris). Each has their own experience, both positive and negative, and these accounts are interspersed with lip-synched verbatim quotes from real interviews with members of the LGTBQ+ community.

Elijah Harris, Eleanor Rattenbury, Ethan Pascal Peters, Elizabeth Hope and Meg Lewis in Pitch. Photo Credit: David Monteith-Hodge.

Nell Bailey’s direction is slick and stylish, particularly in the stylised movement sections and the gradual reveal of the individual’s stories. Made in conversation with fans and players across the UK, the piece challenges the macho image that football often has, blending documentary and storytelling, and centring queer experience.

Elijah Harris, Elizabeth Hope, Meg Lewis, Eleanor Rattenbury and Ethan Pascal Peters in Pitch. Photo Credit: David Monteith-Hodge.

Football can be both divisive and unifying, on a local and international level. In this warm, joyful play about the power of sport to bring people together, the excellent cast show that support and solidarity are absolutely key to overcoming prejudice.

By Deborah Klayman

Pitch plays at the Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh until 28th August 2023.

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