IT'S all kicking off in the theatre where the beautiful game takes centre stage.
Total Football is the latest from absurd satire specialists Ridiculusmus, which comes with a reassuring message for any theatregoers who don't know their Arsenal from their Elburton Villa.
"It is more Beckett than Beckham," says Jon Haynes, one half of the company and cast (with David Woods).
"There is a [Wayne] Rooney chant, which goes into a sweaty, energetic football dance. And there are some footballs bouncing about.
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"But the show is not really about football. Football is a metaphor, a skeleton on which to hang things, mostly to do with identity and what it means to be British today."
The inspiration for Total Football – which plays at the Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth next week – came from the moves to put together a Team GB for the London Olympics. The UK nations field separate teams for international tournaments and the attempt to create a truly transnational side for the 2012 Games fell foul of the Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland football authorities.
"David and I play two civil servants trying to put that team together," explains Jon. "David plays a Sir Humphrey from Yes, Minister, senior type and I am low rank with no interest in football."
The two also flit between other characters including Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson (their Team GB coach), and an Albanian cleaner – "what the present Government would call a pleb, I suppose" – who is canvassed for football knowledge.
As for the two theatre players, David follows the game and cheered England on in person at the 2002 World Cup in Japan. But Jon is neither a sportsman nor a sports fan.
"At school I was forced to be in a football team but if the ball landed near me I would just stand and watch it, which drove the PE teacher mad."
He did some reading as research. There was little stage tradition to draw on – one of the very few plays is An Evening With Gary Lineker, set against the 1990 World Cup semi-final between England and West Germany.
"Football is very theatrical but it is very difficult to portray on stage," he adds.
Total Football started with improvisation and there was a flickering of interest within Jon who watched some World Cup games, but only for educational purposes. No passion was aroused, no lasting interest.
The show has tapped into the soccer-watching audience – in the Barbican in London Jon noted the presence of the occasional youngster wearing a football club shirt accompanying their parents. However he does not think that
Total Football will have the reverse effect of encouraging Plymouth Theatre Royal regulars to start spending their Saturday afternoons at Home Park watching Argyle.
"I don't like to generalise but theatre goers, in London at least, tend to be put off football."
Nor will the audience pick up much useful knowledge about the game which loosely underpins the play.
Jon admits that he still knows next to nothing about football.
But what about the irony that he shares a name with a true British football great: Johnny Haynes of Fulham and England (58 caps and 18 goals), hailed by Pele as "the best passer of the ball I have ever seen"?
"Who?" says the stage Jon.
Total Football runs at the Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth, from Tuesday to Saturday next week (box office: 01752 267222 and www.theatreroyal.com).