Sing Yer Heart Out For The Lads at Minerva Theatre, Chichester - Review, this is why offensive language and brutal themes are justified

Gathering down the local pub to watch a football match with your mates on the big TV screen while downing a succession of pints of lager has become, in a very short space of time, a national pastime for fans.

Roy Williams’ play is ruthless in exposing the dark side to this tradition – with language and humour that is not for the faint-hearted.

At the King George pub, the giant telly – bought on the cheap from one of the regulars – is already proving unreliable.

But not as unreliable as the customers.

SING YER HEART OUT FOR THE LADS by Roy Williams ; Production ; Joanna Bowman - Revival Director ; Nicole Charles - Original Director ; Set Designer - Joanna Scotcher ; Costume Designer: Amelia Jane Hankin ; Lighting Designer: Joshua Carr ; Sound Designer: George Dennis ; Video Designer: Isaac Madge ; Movement Director: Chris Whittaker ; Fight Director: Kate Waters ; Casting Director: Charlotte Sutton CDG ; Chichester Festival Theatre ; 22nd July 2022 ; Credit and copyright: Helen Murray www.helenmurrayphotos.com

As pub landlady Gina prepares for the influx she is juggling family issues with the plates of cheese sandwiches alongside the issues of racism which will come to dominate the next two hours.

As the England v Germany match unfolds on the giant screens there is a very different drama taking place in the pub. None of it is pretty.

This extraordinarily powerful production was staged at Chichester in the Spiegeltent in 2019 but its return is welcome and timely none the less.

That racism continues to disfigure the beautiful game remains a national disgrace and this play is a reminder of how little progress has yet been made in changing attitudes in small town pubs and amongst small minded individuals across the land.

Despite being difficult, uncomfortable viewing, Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads has already become one of the modern classics of its genre – and the conversion of the Minerva into such an authentic pub creates a tangible sense that the audience is not merely a bystander but at the heart of the action.