By Emma Forsyth

Andrea Gibbs’s play perfectly encapsulates the good, the bad, and the ugly of the AFL. From the moment you enter the auditorium, complete with the time capsule 80’s interior, you are transported into the lives of the Williams family – cheering them all on from the sidelines, hoping that all of them will score a victory in the game of life.

Directed by the brilliant Clare Watson, Barracking for the Umpire is a story of love, sacrifice, and above all else, AFL. Set in the heart of Donnybrook, telling the story of living AFL legend Doug, his steadfast wife Delveen and their three children: Charaine, Ben, and Mena. The play tackles men’s mental health, the fragility of the human body, and the impacts of brain injury on ourselves, our families, and our communities. The discussion about CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) resulting from football concussions is quite topical, and the play explores the effects of this debilitating condition on the heart of a loving family.

The cast (Michael Abercromby, Pippa Grandison, Joel Jackson, Steve Le Marquand, Ebony McGuire, Jo Morris, and Ian Wilkes) are a sensation to behold as they balance the comedic moments and emotional instances of the play to deliver a clear message about the sacrifices made not just by an AFL player, but by their family as well. Powerful performances that help shed light on some important issues we tend to overlook.

A moment, of course, must be given for the fantastic set design and soundtrack that gives the very convincing illusions of being in your grandparents’ living room watching the AFL on the telly. A tremendous job was done by set and costume designer Sara Chirichilli.

Grab your friends, family or just yourself this weekend to see a different kind of AFL game!

Five out of Five Pelicans!

By Pelican Magazine

Pelican is one of the oldest student publications in Australia and the only independent paper at UWA. If you enjoy writing, then Pelican is the place for you! We print six themed issues a year, and run a stream of online content.

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