Heart-rending comedy play about a transgender football fan and her mates
Three West Ham fans meet religiously to watch Premier League football matches. It's their escape from the humdrum of daily life. But times are changing and the simple comradery of the football terrace is challenged by contemporary values. As one of the lads asks: 'What's the world coming to when one of your best mates turns into a bird in front of your eyes?'
Playwright and director Colin Chaston has written and directed a play that is – at face value – about a transgender football fan becoming accepted by his gender normative mates. But really, Chaston's play is all about the dynamic between mates. Ash (later Ashleigh)'s gender swap is a device to display the fears of two friends about a modern and changing world they don't understand.
It is a heartwarming, funny and genuinely emotional play which could so easily have drifted offside. Importantly, Chaston manages to introduce a transgender woman without making it feel like a gimmick. And in moments of high emotion, Ashleigh (when revealed as a woman) drives the building of a new type of relationship between the friends, which forms the rich and textured centre of this play.
Irons is a simply sublime comedy: the trio dance, and sing 'Let's Go Fucking Mental' when goals are scored, which has been known to provoke audience participation). Chaston's play has an innovative heart, but its pace and staging is remarkably straightforward and joyously fun. In a time when transgender issues have become a prominent point of discussion across the western world, this script is a reminder that there is more to the matter than headlines and petty arguments on the internet.
Greenside @ Infirmary Street, until 27 Aug (not 14, 21), times vary, £10 (£9).