WEST Yorkshire playwright, broadcaster and arts journalist Nick Ahad’s new play Glory hits the canvas at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, from tonight to Wednesday.

As wrestling experiences a resurgence across Britain, Ahad’s state-of-the-nation drama delves into the larger-than-life world of this unique, if eccentric, sport to grapple with race, identity and what it means to be British today.

Glory is a first-time collaboration between The Dukes theatre in Lancaster, Leeds company Red Ladder and Bradford company Tamasha, directed by Red Ladder artistic director Rod Dixon, in the wake of his punchy productions of The Damned United and Mother Courage And Her Children.

Fresh from its premiere at The Dukes, Glory sets off on its two-month tour of theatres and non-traditional venues at the SJT this evening, taking in a week-long run at the Albion Electric Warehouse, Leeds, next month.

Set in a decrepit gym in the north of England, Ahad’s story finds faded star Jim ‘Glorious’ Glory (Jamie Smelt) and amateur wrestlers Dan (Josh Hart), Ben (Joshua Lyster) and Sami (Ali Azhar) confronting their demons and each other as their lives collide, both inside and outside the wrestling ring.

Jim Glory used to be somebody; in the heyday of British wrestling, he was a colossus, but his empire has long crumbled. Through Dan, Ben and Sami, however, he catches a glimpse of resurrection; a chance to re-establish his great name and his decaying gym.

York Press:

Going for Glory: a scene from Nick Ahad's new wrestling play. Picture: Andrew Billington

ADo the amateur trio want to wrestle and restore Jim’s glory? Or do they have a different fight in mind? Only one hero can emerge in Ahad’s sweaty and gutsy story about what people will do to achieve glory.

“I used to watch wrestling when I was a little boy,” says Ahad, the writer previously of Partition and the award-winning The Chef Show. “I still remember the excitement of seeing Giant Haystacks fight Big Daddy at Victoria Hall in Keighley in the 1980s. But I thought British wrestling was a relic of the past. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

“Wrestling is alive, well and as entertaining as ever. With larger-than-life characters and a perfect combination of sport, performance, blood and sweat, it's pure theatre.

“It’s also the perfect arena to explore the Britain we all share today. I can’t think of a better place for drama to play out than the inside of a wrestling ring.”

As well as Scarborough, Glory’s Yorkshire locations will include Grove Hall, Wakefield, March 8; Belle Isle Working Men’s Club, Leeds, March 12; Cast, Doncaster, March 21; The Cluntergate Centre, Wakefield, March 22; Jump Club, Barnsley, March 23; Hull Truck Theatre, Hull, March 26, and Red Ladder’s home at the Albion Electric Warehouse, Leeds, April 1 to 6.

Tickets for the national tour are on sale at redladder.co.uk; for Scarborough’s 7.30pm shows, 01723 370541 or at sjt.uk.com.