Horsham play explores "the dying romance of the great English game"

Freddie Hill
Freddie Hill

Coldwaltham’s Freddie Hill plays a rising young footballer in a haunting and humorous new play about the dying romance of the great English game.

Red Lion is being staged by a company assembled specially for the purpose at the Capitol Theatre, Horsham, on Friday, August 16 and Saturday, August 17 in the venue’s Studio as a Horsham District Year of Culture event.

The play by Patrick Marber will be directed by Sean Turner, taking the audience into the world of small time semi-pro football, the non-league.

A world away from the wealth and the television cameras, a young player touched with brilliance arrives from nowhere. An ambitious manager determines to make him his own. And the old soul of the club still has dreams of glory.

Freddie, who was Peter Pan in Chichester Festival Youth Theatre’s Christmas production three years ago, is enjoying the challenge.

“It centres around the football scene, and it is about a league club that is in the throes of trying to get their team back together. They are trying to improve their team, and this young player Jordan comes along – the character that I play.

“But there is a bit of corruption at the club. One of the managers wants to use him to get backing for a buy-out. There are some very interesting themes. There are some light-hearted moments in there, and there is some great dialogue. Patrick Marber is a great writer who manages to capture the truth and the honesty of it all.

“Jordan is a young footballer. He plays casually but really, really loves the game. He is not interested in money. He is not interested in fame. He just wants to play football and just does it for the love of the game. He has got his morals, but the manager of the club is a bit more of a trader. He has got the pound signs in his eyes and he goes for that.

“The play is a three-hander which is really interesting to do. It is good to be working with a small cast, and there is some really good dialogue.”

Freddie left Chichester Festival Youth Theatre last year: “I was there for four years and I thought it was time to move on and to try to progress my career and to see what happens.

“I met some fantastic people and some fantastic directors at the youth theatre. I have also learnt some fantastic values at the festival theatre. They have really instilled a professional attitude. They make you work on the team spirit and that is what theatre is really all about. It is quite different to film, but in the theatre you really are a company, and at Chichester Festival Youth Theatre they really instil that into you.”

Peter Pan was a great experience: “I just remember the sheer scale of it, of going into that big audience every night. It was an amazing experience to be able to go on stage to that many people. I loved it. It was great.”

Now he is working full time in the business: “I have got lots of bits and things lined up. I am just seeing where it goes. You can’t plan a career, but that’s part of the beauty of it. That’s the lovely thing about it – and I am just grateful for the chances that I have been given.”

Age guidance for the play is 14 years and up. Contains strong language.

Patrick Marber was born in 1964. He began his career as a stand-up comedian and writer in 1986. He co-wrote and appeared in a number of radio and television programmes including The Day Today and Knowing Me, Knowing You. In 1995 his first play, Dealer’s Choice, premiered at the National Theatre in a production he also directed. Since then he has written plays and screenplays including After Miss Julie, Closer, Howard Katz, Don Juan in Soho, Notes on a Scandal and Love You More. In 2016 he directed a revival of Tom Stoppard’s play Travesties at the Menier chocolate Factory which, after a sell-out run transferred to the Apollo Theatre. This production has since transferred to Broadway. He is a director of Lewes FC.

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