Going for Gold is the second play focusing on the London 2012 Olympics that I have seen at the Fringe and definitely the most pessimistic. Following the lives of three athletes, Going for Gold highlights the sacrifices that obviously have to be made to become the best in your field. Rather oddly, however, winning doesn’t bring happiness to any of these sportswomen.
As the plot is such a simple one, this play really needed some outstanding acting from the cast in order to keep the audience engaged. Whilst some of the more minor characters, who act as parents to the athletes, were very convincing, confident and funny, a couple of the main actors often stumbled over lines. The new, young talent of the team outshone the others in terms of delivering a very honest, natural performance and creating a character who is easy to connect with, yet this was not enough to redeem the overall standard. Going for Gold has a lot of potential but there are still large areas which need to be worked on. The relationship between an athlete and her rogue coach could have covered many serious issues, for example, instead the actors were so awkward that it became embarrassing to watch.
Going for Gold did, however, succeed in covering issues such as media and family pressure on athletes and intermittent news reports worked very well on stage. It also questions the worth of ‘winning as a team’ versus winning as an individual, which also transfers to the athletes’ roles as family members. This is probably the most genuinely moving part of the play, which does well to emphasise how much sacrifice is needed for success. Going for Gold does also claim to ‘show the elation of winning’ but I completely missed this: no one is triumphant at the end. The enactment of the race itself could also have been a lot more physical and dramatic, though the end of the play itself was still climactic. Going for Gold has its faults, but the potential is still there for it to turn into something much greater.