Have you ever been to a comedy gig by yourself? Waits for that tumbleweed and the whispers of “loner” to follow with it…before I can dubsmash Celine Dion’s All By Myself, I will raise my right hand whilst blushing and fighting the temptation to hide in a corner of this very web page. The joke is on you as you blend at the bar, stare at your phone, pretend to make a call or text and wait for your “friends” to arrive. Being a loser in the girls toilets, I psyched myself up with a “this girl can” attitude and climbed the stairs to Soho Theatre’s comedy heaven where Coach Coach was waiting for me.
Dressed like something out of Uniqlo, Coach Coach (Adam Riches) chewed gum, cracked jokes and greeted the audience at the door. “Go Central Mam!” He smiled at me with an American fifty star twinkle in his eyes. OMG! I’m writing like a schoolgirl gushing over her buff PE teacher…quick cross the legs. It’s always a pre-show treat to meet the leading man before he takes to the stage and makes you feel loved as an audience member. A moment of true appreciation from Adam Riches – something I admire.
Walking into the beats of Public Enemy’s Harder Than You Think and Madonna’s 4 Minutes, wild banter and energy was turned to the max. The theatre was transformed into a mini sports stadium with two gigantic banners, titled Lizard and Centaur, draped from ceiling to floor. Two Centaur players were already on the stage, warming up, whilst two Lizard players vandalised the blackboards with “Lizards 4 ever”. The message was clear. This was a showdown between two rival teams at Pleasance High.
The clock is ticking and your team are losing…The ball is in your hands… Will you take the shot, the Hail Mary that could win or lose you the game? Coach Coach tells the story of the ultimate High School Sports Coach desperately trying to steer his team to glory in the final of the Yakult Cup.
Screwing Coach Carter over, Adam Riches plays the hilarious Coach Coach as the Volfsball God. Not having a clue on what was Volfsball, I relied upon his version of events, similar to relying upon Wikipedia for facts. Coach Coach explains his undying love for the game and the Centaur team. With a battle of colliding film intro soundtracks, I was ready for the Soho blockbuster whilst waving this undecided flag.
Cringing at the Lizard’s many victories, the Centaur team were destined for Loserville. Memphis Alabaster (Nick Hall) has two left arms, failing to catch the ball whilst Tug Heartstrings (Charles Booth) holds onto a glimmer of positivity for the team. If I could roll on the floor laughing at this point, I would, but that would be too cruel. Feeling sorry for Coach Coach, his Jesus comes. The chair-bound Bond-like villain Principal Tucker (Richard Gadd) presents Willy T. Wolf (John Kearns) to the Centaur Team. Hope is restored…so you think.
The Lizards are like the Slytherins from Harry Potter. They like to tease, install fear and insert doubt. Swish Swisherstein (Daniel Cook) and The Wrist (Ben Target) are the great comical baddies, impressively scoring with their backs turned. This duo winds up Coach Coach into a fireball of banter and spits out the Centaur team into the trashcan.
Coach Coach’s pregnant wife (Stevie Martin) and daughter (Emma Sidi) are full of feisty comebacks and give the men a run for their
money balls. Mrs Coach gives her husband that Mamma Knows Best attitude to fight his gum addiction and betrays his love of Volfsball to make him learn his lesson in marriage. His daughter, Missy, yearns to play for the Centaurs, but Coach Coach refuses. Wanting to rip his head off for screwing up female empowerment, I knew my girls will show errr hummm this girl can, daddy!
The bite size love flick moments between Centaur player Willy T. Wolf and Missy was a great pee-maker. The pair squeezed past the audience sat in the middle row, finding their seats to watch a comedy gig on their first date. With Adam Riches on the stage and holding a torch over a tiny figurine, Missy huffed at their far away view and offered to make out in the disabled toilets. Literally making out in the audience’s laps, the bird and the bees suddenly ended thanks to the Willy’s werewolf hairy arms.
One of my main worries was being plucked out of the audience and become the clown for show purposes. Luckily, it helped I sat in the back row to avoid any confrontation or embarrassment. Picking on a man in the front row, Coach Coach immediately promoted him to join the Centaurs and score the end of the show’s “winning” goal. With the Douche Bleacher sitting in the audience (James Riches, Ben Wilson) and egging for the perfect finale. It was no pressure…poor bloke! Wearing a bee yellow sleeveless jersey with “This Guy” printed on the back, he took the fatal shot…and missed. Chuckling at Coach Coach and his squad’s stone faces, this was probably the moment where This Guy wanted the ground to swallow him whole.
Adam Riches is Coach Coach tickled the funny bone. Loving the touch of participation, the interaction between cast and audience was well-loved. The enthusiasm on both sides made the show work, work, work. Bumping and grinding to the laughter, the hour was slam dunked. I was left wanting more. Despite being alone, I wasn’t afraid to laugh and enjoy myself. Waving our flags, responding to Coach Coach beck and call and willing for This Guy to score for our home team, it was the best Volfsball game. Perhaps it would be a different story if I was This Guy, but this team of comedians filled the show with the finest riches of comedy gold. After all, Coach Coach was “so good they named him twice”.
Adam Riches is Coach Coach ends Sat 2 April so book here to the best Volfsball game ever.
Big thanks to Rosie Bauer from Mobius