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Wednesday, 21 August, 2002, 18:17 GMT 19:17 UK
Soccer's Romeo and Juliet kicks off
Malcolm Stent, author of A League Apart
Writer Malcolm Stent plays a father in the drama
A play that sets Romeo and Juliet to football is about to get theatre turnstiles turning in the West Midlands.

A League Apart follows the fortunes of two young lovers who support Birmingham City and Aston Villa, set when the two teams met in the 1963 League Cup Final.

But the affair is opposed by both sets of parents because of the footballing rivalry.

Players from the cup final teams are set to attend the premier on 4 September at Solihull Arts Complex.

Footballing pressure

The play, written by Birmingham comedian Malcolm Stent, is set over just four days as the city was gripped by cup fever in May 1963.

But the romance between Billy, from impoverished Small Heath, in Birmingham, and Sandra, from upmarket Sutton Coldfield, does not run smoothly.

"It is a football version of Romeo and Juliet," said Mr Stent.

"The play looks at the tensions as two families come together - one that's rich the other poor, with each couple from different backgrounds.

"But it turns out the reason why the parents disapprove of the relationship is that one supports the Blues and the other supports the Villa.

Real life drama

"It shows the pressures placed on families when relatives support different teams, which is the case in families across the country."

In a fateful twist the teams play each other just days after the final performance, the first league meeting between the two in 16 years.

"It'll be the case of life playing out the drama on stage," said Mr Stent.

"The play was written when the two teams were in different leagues but the fact that they're both in the Premiership just adds spice to it."

A League Apart runs until 14 September.


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See also:

12 Apr 02 | Entertainment
05 Sep 00 | Entertainment
22 Feb 00 | Entertainment
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