TENDER TOUCH FOR FALLEN IDOL
EVERYONE has an opinion on George Best. To some, he's the greatest footballer who ever lived. To others (myself included), he's a man who wasted not only his unique talents through drinking but also the transplanted liver that should have gone to an appreciative donor.
So, it was with a sense of mild distaste that I went to see Dancing Shoes: The George Best Story.
The play is written by Marie Jones and Martin Lynch, with relatively catchy lyrics by JJ Gilmour and Pat Gribben. And to be fair, they've managed not to descend too far into farce by holding up a soccer icon as a revered hero.
Instead, there's a sure but tender hand at work. The story charts George's life from his early days in the back streets of Belfast, to his post-football hedonistic party life in California, and on to his final days on his death bed in London.
Initially, there's little to love about Aidan O'Neill's portrayal of George (apart from his keepy-uppy talents).
But, gradually, as the young Best grows from boy to fledgling star, O'Neill settles into his role as the troubled talent who could have had it all.
There's a unique slant here, as O'Neill is the only actor who plays just one character. There are only eight other actors, who between them take on dozens of roles, a mechanism which works surprisingly well.
Despite the subject matter, this isn't a play about sport. The story of a soccer star who had it all and threw it away translates well to the stage, but drags on a little too long.
An hour in, I was willing George to hit the bottle so we could reach the bitter end we all knew was coming, a bit like watching Titanic. HHHII