Damned United stage play is heading back to its roots in Leeds

David Chafer as Peter Taylor and Luke Dickson as Brian Clough in The Damned United.
David Chafer as Peter Taylor and Luke Dickson as Brian Clough in The Damned United.
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A stage play based on Leeds United-themed novel The Damned United will be on familiar turf next month when it makes a return to Yorkshire.

The play, which tells the story of Brian Clough’s disastrous 44 days as United manager, won acclaim during a five-week run at Leeds’s West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2016.

Brian Clough at Elland Road in 1974.

Brian Clough at Elland Road in 1974.

Now it has been reworked as a smaller-scale production that will visit the Playhouse before embarking on a tour of community venues across Leeds.


The new version will feature a company of three, with Luke Dickson portraying Clough and David Chafer playing the part of right hand man Peter Taylor.

Jamie Smelt will fill the various other roles in the production, a joint enterprise between the Playhouse and Red Ladder Theatre Company.

Red Ladder artistic director Rod Dixon said: “We’re thrilled to be bringing back The Damned United to West Yorkshire Playhouse and taking it into the heart of communities across Leeds.”

Playhouse artistic director James Brining said he was excited by the prospect of audiences seeing the “revitalised and fresh production”.

Published in 2006, Ossett-born writer David Peace’s novel offers a fictionalised account of how Clough was fired by Leeds in 1974 after failing to win over a dressing room still loyal to his predecessor Don Revie.

It did not prove universally popular, with United legend Johnny Giles securing an apology over the way he was depicted.

A subsequent film version starring Michael Sheen was boycotted by Clough’s family.

Peace donated the rights to his book to Red Ladder for just £3.68 – a penny for each page – as a show of support after the theatre company’s Arts Council funding was slashed.

The Damned United is being staged in the Playhouse’s Courtyard Theatre and runs from March 27 to April 7.

Its community tour will take place from April 10 to 21, with venues due to be announced shortly.