Two Marketing volunteers: Rafia Hussain and James Moore, watched some of the rehearsals for Meat Pie, Sausage Roll.
James is a long-time Oldham Athletic Football Club supporter, Rafia doesn’t watch football at all. We asked them both to write about what they thought of the musical in the making.
This play is about many things, football being only one. Sure, someone might come along to see it because they’re a football fan and that would be a perfectly good reason to, after all, football is central to the story (the title is part of a football chant I believe) but like Asif, I’ve no interest in football. I do think the play is something pretty special.
Each of the characters in the play could easily have been plucked from Oldham back in 1990/1991 and watching it I could see bits of people I know of in real life or could easily believe exist. The regional accents and local vibes give this play a personal touch. The play makes references to real life places and events, giving it an earthy feel as it recalls Lactics’ golden years and the story unfolds in a wonderfully rom-com fashion.
Mandi Taylor is a hard-working woman from Oldham who moved away and became successful, when she returns for a job interview she isn’t expecting the interviewer to be Asif Rana, her little brother’s childhood best friend! They end up together (and not everyone is overcome with joy at the news). The drama is off the pitch as their wedding date clashes with the last game of the season – a long standing tradition in the Taylor household. The Rana and the Taylor families are different in many ways but they manage to overcome their differences in a heart-warming show about how the clashing of cultures is a credit to the town.
While not a play I would immediately be drawn to, as I don’t watch football myself, the play has charmed the heck out of me; it’s definitely one I would recommend. You can watch and enjoy this play without even understanding football! So whether you want to take a trip down memory lane, love the Lactics or are a person who loves a good musical – this is one not to be missed!
As football fans, we’ve all been there, wanting to talk about the game, but the only people you can talk to don’t know or care about the game. In the end, we all come to the realisation that, regardless of the expression, it really isn’t a matter of life and death, and Meat Pie, Sausage Roll dramatizes this struggle brilliantly, demonstrating the all too familiar story of a family split by their loyalties, and the resulting conflicts that seem so important at the time.
With the background of Oldham’s greatest ever season, fans of the Latics will enjoy the sense of nostalgia, without it distracting them from the story, as the writers, Cathy Crabb and Lindsay Williams, have done an excellent job of researching that glory season’s events, as well as the culture of Oldham fans in the early 90s, with subtle details included in the story, from the use of the chants from the terraces, to unusual facts that fans will pick up on. Likewise, everyone involved in the production has made a great effort to match the environment around the club at the time, studying pictures and video of the period to get a sense of what people were wearing, saying and doing during the early ’90s. Obviously, the music plays a huge part in the performance, and even setting aside the fantastic singing of the cast, the way in which the music has been done is outstanding, with the original songs blending well with the use of football chants, providing a seamless transition between scenes.
While the backdrop may worry non-football fans, it’s not overwhelming, and any football-related humour will still bring a laugh, while giving fans memories of the terraces at Boundary Park. This comes through the characters of Mick, his son Kev, and best mate Woody, who each portray a different kind of fan: Mick is the sceptical adult, Kev is the hopeful youngster, and Woody is the adult who still acts like a teenager. Many football-related productions, be it in films or in books, have a tendency to paint football fans as hooligans, but that’s not the case here, as the Oldham fans are shown in a good light, though perhaps needing to get their priorities in check. Is a match really more important than a lifetime event like a wedding? Mick, Kev, Woody will do anything they can to be at the game, from trying to show non-fan groom-to-be Asif all the ‘fun’ of being a supporter, to attempting to win bride-to-be Mandi over in elaborate, and hilarious, ways.
Meat Pie, Sausage Roll is not just for theatre-goers, nor is it just for football fans, as it brings both cultures together in a delightful way, without belittling those who enjoy the game. All in all, the comedy and drama will have you hooked, while the music will leave you singing all the way home.