Keeper Of The Flame

Two main strands run through Keeper of the Flame, written and performed by Rob Adams, a play that fits neatly into the confines of the delightful Bridge House Theatre. It is primarily a football story; the tale of George Gilbert, a fictional goalkeeper whose politics are left-wing; his rise from obscurity in south London to the dizzy heights of being headhunted by Huddersfield Town.

A story that resonates with our own time

He moves on to greater glory on the international circuit, where he might have remained had he not also been a social activist living through the interwar years. However, his ideological beliefs and willingness to take part in protests conflict with the neutrality desired by club managers. His personal life is forced to weave its troubled way through the demands of the game and his passionate commitment to social justice.

In England, it is the period of Oswald Mosley and his Black Shirts. Anti-Semitism is rife and the rise of Facism seemingly unstoppable as even those in the media owned by hard-line anti-communist Viscount Rothermere champion right-wing causes. All of this is anathema to Gilbert. Meanwhile, Europe is dominated by the Viscounts friends, Hitler and Mussolini, and the presence of the latter at one of his games and the salutes he sees send shivers down his spine.

Footballers at the time were supposed to keep their heads down both on and off the pitch, but Gilbert is not prepared to sacrifice his idealism. He becomes embroiled in the Battle of Cable Street where he stands behind the barricades opposing the march of the British Union of Fascists, after which his untenable position makes him leave for a new life in Spain.

The ancient maxim he had been taught as a youngster never leaves him: “When we dream no longer, then we die”. Death is what he now faces, as is revealed in the opening scene, as he stands defiantly in front of a firing squad.

Adams vividly captures the youthful enthusiasm of Gilbert, whose ability to catch a ball was recognised by his parents in his infancy and by football clubs later on. He physically portrays many goal-saving moments and anxious times on the pitch, which is one side of the story. He also embodies the passion of a man who cannot separate himself from the causes of the day and reveals how his private and personal life become inextricably bound up in both. In so doing he introduces us to a range of characters each of whom is brought to life by a distinctive voice and various mannerisms.

The empty stage gives Director Michael Mulqueen all the space necessary for his carefully devised movements and the settings are created by a mixture of evocative sound and lighting courtesy of Grant Leslie and Ezra Mortimer.

Keeper of the Flame, although set in a historical context is, nevertheless, a story that resonates with our own time.

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Spain, 1937 and international goalkeeper, George Gilbert, finds himself awaiting the firing squad!
How did he get there and how, if at all, does he get out? He recounts tales of daring in order to make the toughest save of his career... his life!

A one man comedy drama written and performed by Rob Adams

"...a fantastic enthralling and witty piece of theatre about football, history , politics and more ! ...go see"
"clever and skilful, humorous , sad , emotional"

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