There was a very warm welcome in the Blackwood hillside as the Miner’s Institute threw open its doors for the premiere of John Godber’s, Up ‘n’ Under: the Welsh Tour.

Following the success of the much acclaimed, Bouncers, and, once again under the imaginative directorship of Richard Tunley, Black Rat Productions have come up with another winner.

Minimally, yet extremely effectively staged, the play has been re-written to tell the tale of the worst rugby-sevens team in the local league having to take on the best side as the result of an outrageous bet.

A talented cast of six bring all the, pathos, humour and pride of the situation to the fore, and in true rugby fashion, the audience are firmly behind the unlikely underdogs from the off.

There are outstanding performances from some cleverly drawn characters.

Sara Lloyd Gregory as fitness trainer Hazel Scott, shows more grit and backbone than any of the players whilst coach, Gareth Bale as Arthut Hywel refuses to let his past prowess on the rugby field go.

Dion Davies (Frank) is making a half-hearted effort to train following his wife and kid’s departure and relative youngsters Rhys Matthews (Steve) and Richard Shackley (Tony) manage to fit in training around their obsession with the opposite sex. Giles Thomas or full-time teacher, Phil, is still basking in the glory of his Welsh trial at 16, over 25 years ago!

Extremely well-observed and full of changing-room banter and song, the pace doesn’t falter.Don’t miss it.

The play returns to the Congress Theatre, Cwmbran, November 7 and the Beaufort Theatre, Ebbw Vale, November 9.