Poland 3 Iran 2 ***

Promo image for Poland 3 Iran 2

Promo image for Poland 3 Iran 2, courtesy of the EdFringe Media Office

Pleasance @ Thistle Street Bar, 4 – 28 August 2010

Reviewed for The List (issue 664)

Iran’s narrow defeat at the hands of Poland in the 1978 World Cup serves more as punctuation than as the main text of this lecture-cum-barroom shaggy dog story. Lecture because its main visual element is a slideshow; barroom tale because it’s told in a tiny pub, as the bartender wipes glasses.

For Mehrdad Seyf (representing Iran), football is intertwined with politics. For his counterpart Chris (representing Poland; he’s Essex-born but his dad’s Polish), it’s something to obsess over. For both, the relationship between Iran and Poland has affected their family history.

The resulting I-go-you-go slideshow oscillates between the fascinating, the revealing, the confessional and the merely mildly interesting; and there are some lo-res clips of the match in question, as well. While both men are engaging speakers, and the venue encourages intimacy, the show’s demands on its audience are chiefly intellectual: to take in facts and trivia, and only to respond emotionally at infrequent moments (the tale of Mehrdad’s uncle, in particular). The highly emotive closing image therefore leaves us wondering whether we’ve missed something vital.

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