Ready for some front row action: the cast of Carleton Theatre Group's production of Muddy Cows.

Carleton girls to tackle a tale of women against the world

The tribulations of a hapless rugby team are centre stage as group kicks off its 70th anniversary year

Although it has its origins in a request for John Godber to write “an Up 'n' Under for women”, in many respects Muddy Cows is a very different beast altogether, as six likely lasses will demonstrate for Carleton Theatre Group's next production on 9–12 March.

For one thing, the sport concerned is Rugby Union, rather than League (OK John, we'll let you off just this once!) and, for another, the action on the stage doesn't attempt to recreate the action on the field in the same way as in Up 'n' Under.

However, despite all this it is still typical John Godber: full of strong characters, astute observations and his trademark mix of poignancy and bluff humour.

“It's all about the girls and their lives and what they have to put up with to play the game,” said Godber in advance of the play's first performance at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, in Scarborough, in 2013. “It's the way they're treated and the struggle they have to get respect from the men who play the game.

“It's the absolute antithesis of Up 'n' Under: it's women; it's Rugby Union; it's character driven with no rugby on stage, just a few balls being thrown around.”

The story of Muddy Cows concerns the women of Scarsfield Ladies RUFC, a down-on-their-uppers side who struggle to attract players, sponsorship and the money to keep going, despite the sterling efforts team captain Maggie Deakin.

In a last-ditch attempt to keep the club afloat, Maggie and her team of nurses, students, housewives and lawyers decide to enter a seven-a-side competition, with thousands of pounds on offer to the winners. Suffice to say there's many an obstacle in their way – including a disastrous night camping before the tournament and a team of professional New Zealanders, the Black Ferns – but can they overcome adversity and turn around their fortunes?

You'll find the answer to that question at Carleton Community Centre, Pontefract, between Wednesday 9 and Saturday 12 March. Tickets are priced £6 (£5 on the opening night) and can be booked on 01977 700052.

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