Quite what Brian Clough would have thought about Colin Tarrant's tour de force impression of Old Big 'Ead, sadly we will never know.

Spirit of the Man, which comes to Richmond Theatre next week, is a new play featuring an apparition of Cloughie sent to help a struggling playwright overcome a mental block. Think It's a Wonderful Life meets Carousel meets Mike Bassett: England Manager.

The show, which is certainly surreal enough to have appealed to Cloughie's sense of humour, may sound bizarre, but it works.

"Brian Clough was the sort of man who could turn his hand to anything he had that special charisma all truly great characters have," said Tarrant (pictured).

"It's not outrageous to think he could inspire anyone to do anything. Cloughie was a supremely talented man-manager. I believe that, if he hadn't chosen a life in football, he would have made an excellent Prime Minister."

Cloughie's charisma, complete with his famous one-liners, is the driving force behind Stephen Lowe's original piece of work.

Lowe even manages to come up with a few new witticisms that Brian himself would have been proud of.

Summoned from heaven, with whistle round neck, wagging his finger, Brian's protg gasps: "Brian, you're walking on water."

"Don't be so surprised son," comes his instant reply.

Lines like that convinced Tarrant, 53, to take on the role: "I actually read an interview with Stephen about the project in my local paper and I immediately called my agent to ask him to put me up for it.

"I am a Nottingham Forest fan from birth; I grew up in Shirebrook, a declining pit town in the East Midlands; I'm a staunch socialist and I failed my 11-plus. I can relate to Brian Clough on so many levels."

Tarrant's performance has been hailed by Forest fans and the Clough family.

The Spirit of the Man, Richmond Theatre, Richmond Green, Tuesday to Saturday, March 21-25.

Tickets £10-£22.

Call 0870 060 6651.