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Review of The Twelfth Player at Sixfields Stadium, Northampton

As a lifelong non-fan of football, The Twelfth Player, a walking tour of a football stadium (Northampton Town's Sixfields) is a hard sell. However, this collaboration of the quartet of Fermynwoods Contemporary, Royal & Derngate, Northampton Town Football and Seven Sisters Group easily appeals to non-fans with its lighthearted nature and clever use of technology.

Stefania Pinato as Odette Rossi
At the start of the tour, you are issued with an iPod and a pair of comfortable Sennheiser headphones and handed a short card of instructions. For anyone wary of their ability to follow instructions, or if you are a man and never read them, do not fear, they should be read, are simple and clear and easy to follow. You then await your allotted time and then in groups of up to four you are taken by your "captain" to the kick-off spot. On my tour, I was accompanied by one other and a maximum of four is clearly a sensible number, however as this is very much a solo type experience finding yourself on your own would not be a problem, and could actually be considered a bonus as it is easy and clear to follow the route.

On your display is the real world locations and lining them up with that real world you trace the path and experience the story of The Twelfth Player, the football fan. During your tour, which runs roughly about forty minutes, you see characters including the famous mascot, Clarence, appear on the screen and appear in real-life. It's clever and intuitive and perfectly timed. The groups leave five minutes apart and part of the interest of the tour is seeing other people either experiencing what you have already seen or giving distance glimpses of what is to come. The main occurrence of this is within the playing area itself and live performer Stefania Pinato's role, whom you witness on three occasions on your route through the seating and around the edge of the pitch. As a dancer, Pinato bridges a clever and nice distinction between dance and the beautiful game, dancing and dribbling the ball across the pitch. All of the live performers are dancers from Fermywoods and play either footballer Odette Rossi or mascot Clarence with a neat stylistic approach, making the performances eyecatching.
David Charles as Dad

The film cast tells the tale of wannabe players, kit cleaners and burger makers and a life lived through football. It is accessible and offers interest to non-football fans, and most likely to keen fans as well. For any fans that might not get much from the story, they gain from the chance to explore locations rarely seen including showers and the away team's changing rooms.

If there is one criticism of the tour, it would be that perhaps for clarity the screens used are a little small, a slightly enhanced size would have provided a much clearer image for the sequences.

However, The Twelfth Player is a wonderfully clever show, utilising technology and inventive design in a show which is also tremendous value for many. Unquestionably worth experiencing be you a football fan, theatre fan or somewhere inbetween.

★★★★


Performance reviewed: Wednesday 24th May 2017 (2.35pm) at Sixfields Stadium, Northampton.
The Twelfth Player returns to Sixfields Stadium on Thursday 22nd June and runs into July. Details at: https://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/whats-on/the-twelfth-player/
For further details about the Royal & Derngate visit http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

PHOTOS: Andrew Eathorne
Stefania Pinato as Odette Rossi



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