Corn Exchange Dorchester

AN empty stage, just one actor playing more than 50 parts, laughter and tears in equal measure, this is professional theatre at its most formidable.

One of England’s finest sportsmen of the 1960s is brought to life in this new play that tells the story of cricketer Colin Milburn which highlights not only his glittering success as a batsman but brings into focus the reality of an athlete’s life when the glory is gone.

A test batsman of remarkable ability, Ollie Milburn was also known for his laddish humour and partiality for gin and coke but the bulky façade concealed a man struggling with self-awareness and depression.

An amazing performance by Dan Gaisford recreates the larger than life personality of Ollie together with those who had an impact upon him, most notably his mother, wonderfully portrayed by Dan as a forceful working class woman of steel.

Promoted by the Professional Cricketers’ Association and written by former cricketer Dougie Blaxland, the production brings into the focus through Ollie’s own story the impact that can follow upon the sudden collapse of a career which sports personalities have to face as their ability declines.

Aged 28, Colin Milburn was at the peak of his batting glory when an accident caused him to lose an eye, a tragedy from which he never mentally recovered as alcoholism took over, his life ending in a pub car park at only 48.

With the names of famous cricketers such as Don Bradman, Wesley Hall and Colin Cowdrey rippling through the drama, this moving tribute is just as he would have liked – full of silly jokes and tales of camaraderie among sportsmen who loved and respected him.