@ The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, on Sun 29 May 2016

Billed as a “new theatre discussion show”, Football in Five Images is essentially an uncensored chat between two journalists about the current state of Scottish football. Five historic and contemporary pictures act as a jumping off point for Stuart Cosgrove & Graham Spiers to go into a well-developed routine where they ‘poke’ each other about the teams that they support and the points of view each of them have on Scottish football today.

The evening is designed to entertain the sell-out audience by looking at areas which are going to get a head nod or laugh, beginning with an opening picture which is ready-made to please the home supporters of Aberdeen F.C. This crowd-pleasing approach continues, but starts to come across as more staged, as if the jokes are being set up, a fact highlighted by the near failure to mention the recent Scottish Cup Final shenanigans. This would have been topical and relevant to the future of Scottish football but a brief reference to it contrasts with historic one-liners about EBT and tax dodging which were mentioned several times. This is especially disappointing because when Cosgrove and Spiers go on to debate the death of newsprint and its effect on sports journalism, it is more interesting than most of the football anecdotes. It is very humbling to watch people talking candidly about their own livelihoods being under threat from non-traditional media.

The question and answer session format doesn’t work, however. Open mic questions would have been better since it would have allowed for the “danger” of real audience participation.

If what’s been said makes it sound unenjoyable, nothing could be further from the truth. Both Cosgrove and Spiers are able to intelligently discuss many facets of the game, making for an entertaining evening in a room where everybody loves football. It’s like listening to your mates chatting about football in the pub, only be prepared – you can’t really join in!