**** (4 stars)
One of the things I most love about the Play, Pie, Pint series is that it’s beginning to fill the woeful gaps in my knowledge of the history of the country to which I moved in 2005. Rose not only does this but speaks out loud and strong against the still-prevailing culture of male dominance which persists in regarding women as second-class citizens who should know their place and not attempt to do things “that only men are allowed to do”.
Rose is a celebration of the indomitable spirit of Rose Reilly who, with her mate Edna Nellis defied the archaic, misogynistic culture prevalent in the Scottish Football Association in the 1970s and refused to accept the ban on women playing football – a ban which was imposed worldwide in the early 20th century and which every country but Scotland had by then lifted.
Prevented from playing in Scotland, she and Edna went to Europe when still in their teens, and played professionally first for Reims and then Milan: success after success followed, and in 1984 Rose played for Italy and won the World Cup, beating West Germany in the final. Soon after, she was proclaimed the best footballer in the world – but it wasn’t till 2007 that Scotland began formally to recognise her amazing talent which, had she been a man, would have made her a household name decades previously.
Christina Strachan gave an outstanding performance in this one-woman show, perfectly capturing the many characters playing their parts – good and bad – in Rose’s story, and leaving us with a picture of a lively, energetic woman who refused to be prevented from following her passion and playing football professionally. The audience became deeply involved in her story, laughing with her, crying with her, becoming furious with her and celebrating not only her success but also the courage with which she rose above the pettiness of the opposition and simply proved all her critics wrong.
The run is almost a sell-out – there are still some tickets left for Friday lunchtime: but move fast, blink or you’ll miss this uplifting story of the gallus wee lassie from Ayr who simply refused to take no for an answer or confine herself to the straitjacket in which men felt she should be confined.
A Play, A Pie & A Pint, Lorna Martin: Rose, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Run ended.