“Bleeding Red”, Michael Brian Ogden’s immensely entertaining comedy at The Purple Rose Theatre

If you haven’t yet seen it, you have a few more weeks to see”Bleeding Red”, Michael Brian Ogden’s immensely entertaining comedy at The Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, MI.

3180_1013314348236_1686368926_14552_1722547_n(photo copyright Purple Rose Theatre, 2009; Michael Brian Ogden, Matthew Gwynn, Matthew David in Bleeding Red)

Anyone who has spent any time at all overseas will know that soccer fans are far more devoted to their teams than any American equivalent. That devotion is displayed in a love of the beautiful game that goes beyond merely following your team and includes long established pre-game and gametime rituals and routines. You get a small sampling at UM Hockey games, but at a much lower intensity level. That devotion sets the scene for this hilarious production, and what happens when the recent breakup of one of a group of friends threatens to upset their rituals on the eve of the most important game Liverpool played in 2005. There’s a love story in there, and some commentary on family, rootedness, growing up,and the ever present English class system….but it’s essence is the friendship of three buddies and their devotion to the game.

The small 5-member ensemble cast is superb, and Michael Brian’s writing funny, insightful, and surprisingly good for a first work. Guy Sanville’s direction as usual shows terrific comic timing, and captures the nuances of friends who have become so comfortable with each other and their routines that they routinely pile-up on one another, and dance around emotion as if they have done so for years. Great work here.

Oh — by the way, Liverpool and Milan really did play that game in 2005 — and the team’s theme song really is “You’ll Never Walk Alone”…Rodgers and Hammerstein have been turning over in their graves for years…and the rituals and songs played out in the show really ARE that insane — from someone who suffered through a season of European soccer, imagine 40,000 fans doing these rituals in the stadium while another million idiots do so on the streets of London throughout the day of the game — and you have a little sense of what happens the world over on gameday, and why American sports will never come close to that intensity of fan devotion.

Great job, Purple Rose! Great job Michael Brian Ogden. Go see the show.

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