THE BOY'S OWN STORY by Peter Flannery
- PREMIÈRED CHRIST'S HOSPITAL THEATRE, HORSHAM, SEPTEMBER 1991
LONDON: CHELSEA CENTRE THEATRE, APRIL 1992
- NATIONAL TOUR 1992-1993
- written by peter flannery
- performed by guy masterson
- directed by tony boncza, righard digby-day & tony yates
- 90 minute solo performance
The loneliness of the long-distance goalkeeper
The Boy's Own Story was Peter Flannery's first full length play produced at the Contact Theatre, Manchester in 1978. An updated version was produced in 1991 with Guy Masterson playing the goalkeeper.
The stage featured a large Astroturf six-yard box goalmouth and a full size goal complete with net. The play opened revealing a goalkeeper on the field of play aparently in the midst of a eventless sunday league soccer match... one in which the goalie never seems to get the ball. While keeping an eye on the game before him, his boredom with his inaction prompts him to speak with his audience who are apparently situated in the penalty area. He begins to tell them his life story.
It is a bittersweet tale of a fostered lad, moved from home to home, bullied for his shyness, but who discovers an amazing talent for goalkeeping... one that gives him superficial popularity and eventually takes him to the very top of the domestic professional game to become "The best goalkeeper never to play for England!". Yet his inability to handle the limelight and his social ineptitude keep him fundamentally unpopular and lonely.
The monologue furnishes an anatomy of acute individuality and lonliness using the parallel of the goalkeeper - being the only different one in a team of footballers... "Their job is to score goals, mine is to stop 'em... I'm here to spoil their game." and how these traits manifest themselves in his life.
This universal theme highlights the desire in everyone to dare to be different but also the dangers of actually being "different" in an intolerant society. Towards the end of the 90 minutes, the audience realises that this is perhaps his last game, because even here, he's not really wanted either.
As the final whistle sounds, he grasps on to the only thing that gives him hope. His belief in his talent. "You'll never beat me. You could never beat me!" He leaves the field of play having demonstrated his goalkeeping agility and brilliance to his private audience while never having touched the ball. The audience wonders if he was ever in a game at all.... or was it all in his head - or theirs...
The Boy's Own Story played over 200 times domestically. It was particularly popular in schools both because of its theme but also its theatrical use of Soccer as an attraction to the theatre for younger people. It eventually played for a month in London at the Chelsea Centre Theatre to critical acclaim and 3 London Fringe Award Nominations. The boots were hung up after Guy Masterson secured a nine month run in the West End with Robert Lindsay's Cyrano de Bergerac.
"Guy Masterson plays a moody, paranoid, disintegrating goalie in Peter Flannery's one-man play about soccer. It says some serious things about the commercial exploitation of the short-lived pro sportsman and about the loneliness of the imaginative misfit. A rich 45 minutes each way with a totally authentic performance from Mr Masterson." WEEKEND CHOICE (Michael Billington - The Guardian 09/05/92)
"A fascinating and riveting play. Guy Masterson gives a marvellous and enthralling performance as McKenna. He throws himself around the astroturf goalmouth at the Chelsea Centre, managing to reveal his emotion and anxieties while completing hundreds of spectacular saves. Supporters of the game will love Masterson. His obsession with the game and what makes it tick is obvious and his electric portrayal, performed at a wonderful pace will ensure that audiences will be over the moon." (The Times 01/05/92)
"In Peter Flannery's excellent, engrossing one-man play, Guy Masterson, as McKenna, gives one of the finest performances I have seen on the fringe in a long time. He throws himself about the stage making save after spectacular save while maintaining an intense and personal relationship with his audience. A character that never slips and constantly surprises, and a control over his material that few can master. A great performance in an excellent play. See it." (What's On In London 06/05/92)
"An extraordinary one-man goal-mouth show with Guy Masterson... At the end of the 90 minutes, the lad done great!" (Time Out 03/05/92)
"Masterson's fine, energetic performance combines all-stage dynamism with emotional control and clever parody. He hurls himself round the set and flings himself into impressions of football commentators. He manages to imply much more than he says, to insinuate intelligence..." (Financial Times 2/5/92)