Oscar-nominated playwright Patrick Marber’s football-focused drama The Red Lion hits Tyneside with a month-long production at the Quayside’s Live Theatre helmed by resident artistic director Max Roberts.

Specially adapted by Roberts and Marber for the North East following its critically acclaimed first run at the National Theatre in London in 2015, the play takes place in the dressing room of the titular semi-professional, non-league football club over the course of three Saturdays during one season.

Its three-hander cast features Stockton-born actor Stephen Tompkinson (of DCI Banks and Wild at Heart fame) as Kidd, the club’s ambitious manager whose crumbling marriage and spiralling debt lead him to indulge in some rather shady, non FA-approved tactics; The Bill star John Bowler as Yates, the Lions’ long-serving kit-man and former local legend of the pitch who has basically dedicated his whole life to the club; and Dean Bone, former member of Live’s Youth Theatre, as rising young talent Jordan who’s channelling his passion for football into a means of escaping his troubled past.

Marber’s script shines with snappy comebacks and acerbic wit and its scenes of quick-fire repartee are particularly revealing of the rapport between its talented cast of three, but there’s far more to The Red Lion than just locker room banter. At its heart, it’s a touching and often heart-wrenching exploration of three men separated by generations and ideals and all damaged in their own way, but each united by their love of the beautiful game.

Intense and funny but most of all heartfelt, The Red Lion is a work that’ll resonate not only with football fans – not exactly a rarity in the North East – but far beyond too.

Run: Thursday 6 April – Saturday 6 May

Venue: Live Theatre, Broad Chare, Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 3DQ, 0191 232 1232

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