Long Lane Theatre attracted considerable critical success when they first brought The Giant Killers to Edinburgh Fringe in 2017, now the company return for a run at the Gilded Balloon Teviot, with a show that’s set a century and a half ago, but feels more relevant than ever.
The Giant Killers is set in the northern town of Darwen, a mill town that in the 1870’s faced extreme poverty and social unrest following the cotton famine. The kind of football they had played on the streets had been banned, branded a breach of the peace by the Tory government.
But a new kind of football was on the rise, Association Football was played by the toffs and the elite, and the rules of the game had been specifically designed to keep the working class out. But a friendly mill owner, and the pub landlady see potential in the football players of Darwen and enter them into the cup.
As the team progress towards the final they face The Old Etonians and find that every dirty trick in the book is pulled to try and stop them from winning. There’s a love story that runs alongside the tale of football, but it is the latter that really grips the audience.
Because this is a story of the underdog, a story about the working class who are deliberately being held back to further the advancement of the upper classes, and a story of gaslighting and misinformation by the press. It could happen today and probably wouldn’t surprise a single one of us.
A small but talented cast bring to life the story, taking on multiple characters from the mill owner to the Old Etonian players. It’s not a huge stage, but this cast makes it feel like a stadium, and the scenes that encompass the football games are thrilling.
Exposing social injustice with a fascinating and hugely entertaining story, The Giant Killers is a joy to watch, whether you’re a football fan or not.