ADAPTED from the hugely successful novel by David Peace, The Damned United is here presented by a theatre company from Leeds, the city in which its central figure spent his most famous days.

Peace even showed his support for Red Ladder Theatre Company by selling them the rights for £3.68, a penny for each page of the novel focusing on Brian Clough, a figure who remains one of the most controversial figures in British sporting history.

Like Tom Hooper’s 2009 hit film of the book, scriptwriter Anders Lustgarden focuses the action on the 44 days Clough was manager of the then notorious Leeds United in 1974 while flitting to past moments in “Cloughie’s” career with right-hand man Peter Taylor.

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Played by Luke Dickson and David Chafer respectively, the performances here are impeccable but feel somehow rudderless. Much of the emotional heft of Peace and Hooper’s works lay in the fact these were complex, multi-faceted individuals with a home and family life away from the game. Central figures in his life, Clough’s wife and mother are absent here.

The most we learn about his mother is that she gave him a hug when he came in from school, a clip round the ear if he “stepped out of line” and kept a really clean step. Perhaps Lustgarden has shorn the piece to the Fringe’s regular one-hour slot. Nevertheless, this is an assured and vibrant take on the passion and brutality of “the working man’s ballet”.

Until Aug 27 (not 14, 21), Pleasance Courtyard, 5pm, £9.50 and £11.50, £8.50 and £10.50 concs. Tel: 0131 226 0000