For the next month, you’ll barely be able to move without hearing talk of Rooney’s delicate metatarsal, Ronaldo’s jinking feet and Argentina’s frailty at the back.
Yes, the football world cup is here – well, it’s not here, it’s in Brazil, but I’m sure you get my drift – and while you might think that has absolutely nothing to do with London theatre, I’m here to tell you that’s as wrong as a refereeing decision given against Sir Alex Ferguson. (Stay with me non-footballing types, we’ll get to the theatre soon.)
So, in celebration of the next month of passion, excitement, bravado and inevitable heartbreak sometime around the quarter finals if you’re an England fan, we’ve found nine ways West End theatre is exactly like the world cup:
1. When footballers get a nasty facial injury they wear a protective mask… which is exactly what happened to The Phantom Of The Opera (sort of).
2. Football fans love to wave flags… so do the cast of Les Misérables (though theirs is partially obscured by smoke here, probably from a contraband flare).
3. Every now and then a footballer will exaggerate the extent to which he’s hurt and fans will call for him to be given an acting prize… we actually give acting prizes.
4. Footballers leap, as a commentator might say, like a salmon… Wicked has a witch who, like them, defies gravity.
5. Some footballers have been accused of behaving like highly paid divas… The Bodyguard is all about an actual diva.
6. Over the next month London’s pubs will be packed with cheering football fans… Every night Once’s on-stage pub is packed with cheering theatre fans.
7. I might have mentioned this, but occasionally footballers try to con the referee into giving them free kicks… The West End has its own tricky conmen in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels The Musical (though they’re more interested in making money, so nothing like footballers really).
8. The World Cup has the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon… We have the lions of The Lion King, who are also indomitable (it means they can’t be subdued, if you’re wondering).
9. Football has the scary man in black, the referee (at least, they used to wear black, these days they’re a little more multi-coloured, like a dreamcoat)… London theatre has The Woman In Black, who is so scary we can’t show a picture of her for fear that something terrible will occur (like losing our TV signal during an England game).