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Head ‘humbled and proud’ of reaction to The Greater Game so far

PUBLISHED: 15:00 06 November 2018

The Greater Game cast after a show at the Waterloo East Theatre

The Greater Game cast after a show at the Waterloo East Theatre

Archant

The show, based on Stephen Jenkins’ book ‘They Took The Lead’, will complete its first week running at the Waterloo East Theatre this evening

The Greater Game writer Michael Head is thrilled with the reaction to the show so far as it approaches the end of its first week at the Waterloo East Theatre.

Last Tuesday (October 30), the play opened its door with this current cast and so far the feedback has been hugely positive.

Based on Stephen Jenkins’ book ‘They Took The Lead’, the show, directed by Adam Morley, runs until November 25 and provides laughter and tears in equal measure.

Head said: “I am absolutely over the moon with it because it is always risky putting it out again and half the people who come will have seen it before, so they have got their preconceived notions of what they are going to expect.

“This time it is very different and a lot more hard-hitting and I’m aware it will probably never go out again, so I wanted to make it personal to the players and personal to the club.

“Last time it was almost like a film where we were telling a story and creating characters, but this time I wanted to make it personal and that has made it quite hard. “We had a solider come in the day before the press night (November 1) and he shook my hand, cuddled me and thanked me and told me it was brilliant. To have that type of impact is brilliant.

“Also we had William Jonas’ Great Granddaughter and her husband down and they loved it, so to have that feedback from people who have served for their country and people who are watching a play about their family, has been amazing and the fans too.

“I am a Leeds United fan, but to have Orient supporters come up to us and show their appreciation for the job we have done really means a lot. It is the point of the play.”

While most are aware of Richard McFadden, William Jonas and George Scott’s role in World War One, where they died fighting for King and Country, the stories of their team-mates and wives are less familiar.

The tale of manager Billy Holmes is not so well-known while Fred ‘Spider’ Parker, Nolan ‘Peggy’ Evans, Jimmy Hugall, Herbert ‘Jumbo’ Reason, Elizabeth McFadden and Mary Jane Jonas all deserve to have their account told.

Head’s ‘The Greater Game’ does just that and he discussed his pride at being able to put the play on.

“We wanted people to get a feel for the story and McFadden, Jonas and Scott, it is all out there, but no one knows about Spider and the fact he has an unmarked grave,” the playwriter and actor said.

“No one knows about Peggy refusing to cut his leg off and we heard the other day about a story just before he died how he went to a wedding in his Orient shirt, so we have put out stories from all the squad.

“It makes it a bit more personal and to go back to Karen Plewes (Jonas), she said to us we brought her Great Granddad back to life and that’s what we are trying to do – to make them live on.

“So, it is an absolutely unbelievable honour for us to be doing this and it makes me so proud and humble to be part of this.”

Book tickets here

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