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A Live Theatre World Premiere production in association with Emmerson and Ward Productions


Written by ROB WARD
Directed by BEX BOWSHER
Sound design by MATTHEW TUCKEY
Lighting design by ANNA REDDYHOFF

Football, politics and the Labour of love. A winning new play about how things can only get better. 

Set against the backdrop of the infamous Premier League season when Newcastle United, almost won under the management of Kevin Keegan. It explores the questions: What is power without principle? And what are principles without power? 

It’s Spring 1996, Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle United are riding high in the Premier League and Tony Blair’s New Labour are gathering pace. Hope is in the air and victory seems within reach. Len, a long term hard left activist, has decided to run as a candidate for local Labour MP, but the arrival of Victoria from Manchester as New Labour’s front runner throws a spanner in the works. With loyalties tested and tensions reaching fever pitch, the winning team will be decided in an explosive head-to-head challenge. 

Love It If We Beat Them is a new political drama that explores a time of significant change in the identity of the North East communities and perfectly captures a moment in recent history that defines who we are today. 

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If you want to buy tickets for more than one of our 50th birthday highlight productions:

  • Love It If We Beat Them
  • To Be A Young Man
  • The Cold Buffet
  • Three Acts Of Love

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⭐⭐⭐⭐ 'A smartly written drama about football, family and politics, with strong performances and stunning design'

⭐⭐⭐⭐'I absolutely loved this play and I don’t think you would have to be a fan of politics or football to enjoy it and feel the passion and humanity of the themes explored.'

'Politics, like sport is a passionate affair; this play looks at how these two passions can influence our lives and relationships...The play is also much deeper than that, offering much humour, comedy and extremely touching moments.'

'A great tight, talented ensemble bring a lively script to life. With clear parallels to the current political battles - and a near miss by the football team - make this a relevant play in 2023...A must see for fans of Newcastle United and those who remember the politically exciting days of 1996'

'a thoroughly absorbing piece of theatre and is well worth seeing whatever your political or football allegiances...and you cannot help but feel warmth for all the characters to which Rob Ward has given a genuine and authentic voice.'

'A warm and accurate picture of north east life and attitudes, both in adversity and in happier moments.  The Newcastle United theme was the reason this report is appearing in The Mag, but this is just a part of a good story, well-acted and with a sense of the familiar whether you were there or not.'

'Do not miss...The script by Rob Ward is fantastic.  If I have to give it a mark out of 10, I'm gonna give it a 10'

'makes for powerful and affecting drama.  It speaks for the enduring North East passion and belief in better times to come'

'The powerful script by Rob Ward pulls you in immediately and the dialogue is punchy and gritty...I left feeling invigorated and reminded that it's passion that counts and hope that keeps us going.'

A snippet from rehearsals with actor David Nellist

Writer Rob Ward tells us about the play

Portrait photograph of Rob Ward, facing camera

Rob Ward - writer

Rob Ward is a two-time Manchester Theatre Award winning writer and performer who is also the Creative Director of Emmerson & Ward Productions. Rob has taken his shows on multiple UK tours along with international touring in Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland and Serbia. His other plays include 'Away From Home' (2013) co-written with Martin Jameson, 'Gypsy Queen' (2016), 'The MP, Aunty Mandy & Me' (2020). Rob was named a British Council Emerging Artist in 2017 and received a 2022 Peter Schaffer Commission from the National Theatre.

Photograph of Bex in front of a white brick wall, looking off to the right

Bex Bowsher - Director

Bex is the RTYDS Assistant Director in Residence at Live and Northern Stage. Bex is dedicated to developing new voices and has worked with Graeae, BBC Writer's Room and theatre companies across the North East. She is the Chair of the Board of Unfolding Theatre, and is a playwright alongside her directing practice. Bex is dedicated to creating work that creates space for those who are typically othered by society. Theatre credits include 'One Off' (Live Theatre) and 'Sorcerer's Apprentice' (Northern Stage).

Actor David Nellist headshot

David Nellist - plays Len

David plays Len, an ex-miner and local Labour activist whose political rise could only be outshone by his beloved NUFC winning the league. David’s theatre credits include 'The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time' (NT/West End), 'War Horse' (NT), 'Billy Elliott' (West End), Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare Globe), Nicholas Nickelby (West End), Pitmen Painters (New Vic Theatre), 'Wet House, Searching for Tom', 'You Couldn't Make It Up', 'Your REALLY Couldn't Make It Up', 'Toast', 'Smack Family Robinson' (Live Theatre), 'Alf Ramsey Knew My Grandfather', 'The Likely Lads', 'The Far Corner' (Durham Gala), 'Elton John’s Glasses' (West End), 'The Warp' (Ken Campbell).
TV credits include 'Sherlock', 'A Confession', 'Archie', 'Waterloo Road', 'Shakespeare & Hathaway', 'Holby City' (BBC). 'GhostBoat', 'Northern Lights', 'Place Of the Dead', 'Badger' (ITV).
Film includes 'Bull', 'Lady Macbeth', 'Twelfth Night', 'Sket' (Revolver).

Actor Jessica Johnson headshot

Jessica Johnson - plays Jean

Jessica Johnson takes on the role of Jean, the passionate charity worker and wife of Len, who has turned her pain into action. Jessica’s theatre credits include 'Educating Rita' (Number 1 UK tour), 'TWO' (Gala Theatre), Goth Weekend (Stephen Joseph Theatre/Live Theatre), 'Call Me Mary Poppins' (Live Theatre), 'Kings and Queens' (Live Theatre), 'Key Change' (Edinburgh Festival/UK Tour/New York Theatre Workshop), 'Each Piece' (Live Theatre), 'The Fighting Bradfords' (Gala Theatre), 'Anti-Gravity' (Live Theatre), 'Make Do And Mend' (UK and Europe Tour), 'The Rooms' (Alphabetti Theatre), 'Frank Sumatra' (Queens Hall/Alphabetti), 'The Fifteen Streets' (The Customs House), 'The Space Between Us' (Regional Tour), 'An Age' (Northern Stage), 'Blue Giro' (Regional Tour/Live Theatre), 'In My Shoes' (Regional Tour), 'Wasted' (ARC Theatre), 'East' (The Customs House) 'Christmas Carol' (Northern Stage), 'Tattercoats' (Northern Stage) and 'The Sorcerers Apprentice' (Northern Stage). Television credits include 'Danny and Mick' (CBBC), 'Coronation Street' (ITV), 'Hospital People' (BBC), 'Wire In The Blood' (ITV) and 'The Hunt for Raoul Moat'.

Actor Dean Bone headshot

Dean Bone - plays Michael

Dean Bone joins the cast as Michael, a down on his luck miner struggling to find work or hope in the rapidly changing world around him. A former member of Live Youth Theatre his Live Theatre credits include 'The Savage', 'The Terminal Velocity of Snowflakes' and 'The Red Lion' for which he won a Journal best newcomer award. Other theatre credits are 'Back Story' (Shooting Fish Theatre Company) and 'Steel and Iron' (27 Productions). TV credits include; 'Dead Canny' (Dave TV), 'Wolfblood' (BBC), 'The Dumping Ground' (BBC); and 'Vera' (ITV) and films 'Electricity', 'Lore' and 'Drunken Butterflies'.

Actor Eve Tucker headshot

Eve Tucker - plays Victoria

Eve Tucker plays Victoria, the Labour party’s newest star and contender for the newly available North East seat. Eve is an exciting talent working in both stage and TV. A UCLAN graduate, Eve has recently worked with Theatre Company ‘Wrongsemble’ on 'A Town Called Christmas' and has just finished filming with 'Coronation Street' (ITV).

Alison Ashcroft sitting in an ornate storytelling chair

Alison Ashton - Designer

After learning her trade at the Birmingham Rep, RSC, Young Vic and Half Moon, London she was Associate Designer at the Royal and Derngate Northampton where one of her favourite designs was for the lavish restoration comedy 'The Way of the World'. Since moving to Newcastle she has designed many productions for Open Clasp, Theatre sans Frontiers, Alphabetti and Kitchen Zoo. Alison has created artwork and installations for Centrica and Newcastle Building Society and since making the Storytelling Chair for Seven Stories has produced many more for schools, libraries, theatres and Durham Cathedral. She worked alongside national theatre director Tim Supple on 'Freedom on the Tyne'. Productions for Live Theatre include 'Rendezvous', 'Turning Tales', 'The Savage', 'Harriet Martineau Dreams of Dancing' and 'My Romantic History'.

Portrait photograph of Matthew Tuckey looking to camera

Matthew Tuckey - Sound Designer

Matthew is a Sound Designer and Sound Artist working across theatre, music, installation, podcast and film. His work as Sound Designer includes 'The Sorcerer’s Apprentice' (Northern Stage); 'Josey', 'Repeat Signal', 'Lost Found and Told: New Tales for Northumberland' (November Club); 'World’s Apart', 'Roaming River' (Woven Nest Theatre); 'Wolf!' (Kitchen Zoo/Northern Stage); 'joey' (gobscure/Greyscale Theatre); 'Smoke & Mirrors' (Molly Barrett/Enchanted Parks Gateshead); 'Floorboards', 'Trolley Boy', 'Walter' (Alphabetti Theatre).

Headshot photograph of Anna, looking to camera, head tilted to the side

Anna Reddyhoff - Lighting Designer

Anna is thrilled to be working on her first production at Live Theatre. Previous design credits include: 'Crackers' (Polka Theatre); 'Everything I Didn’t Say' (UK Tour); 'A Little Night Music' (Avondale Theatre; 'Vessel' (UK Tour); 'Copacabana' (Avondale Theatre); 'The Strange Case of Jekyll & Hyde' (UK Tour); 'Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs' (Bradford Alhambra - Associate LD); 'The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe' (Garrick); 'Emilia' (Vaudeville Associate LD); Sara Pascoe: 'Lads Lads Lads' (Wyndham’s).

Other credits: Re-Lighter 'The Woman in Black' (UK Tour); Chief Electrician - Secret Cinema’s 'Moulin Rouge'; Deputy Electrician - 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' (UK Tour); Deputy Electrician - 'Hairspray' (UK Tour).

Love It If We Beat Them

  • Arts Council England
  • Community Foundation
  • European Regional Development Fund


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