The Lantern Writers hold an annual showcase of new writing from semi-professional and amateur writers, at various stages of development. It is held over three night and the second night of new writing definitely stood up to the showcases’ name ‘Boss New Plays’.
The first of the four pieces was ‘It’s Not The Coughing That Carries You Off’, written by Mark Murphy. This is a comedy play, that uses a doctor’s surgery to bring comedy into everyday life. We’ve all been in a waiting room and overheard half of a phone conversation that could easily been misconstrued; or had that person next to us that can’t sit quietly for their turn and Murphy takes us to these moments and allows us to see the comedy in them. It is cleverly written and takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the half-hour that we got to see. It would be intriguing to see the play in its entirety as I’m not sure it would be able to keep its momentum in the current format.
It was cast well with each of them seeming to be the right person for the roles and the direction from Peter Sebastian definitely transported us right there to that exact waiting room with the people around us.
The second offering of the night was ‘There’s a Man on a Mountain’ by Jamie McLoughlin. I think this may have been my favourite of the evening. The writing was so clever, transporting us to a mountain range in Asia in the 1920s. After a tough climb in adverse conditions, The Visitor (Lew Freeburn) reaches the cave he’s heard about in myths and legends of the local villagers. The Man (James Dorman) greets him and invites him to settle in and offload his problems. They come to an arrangement, then an argument breaks out. The writing is thought out, and leaves us on the edge of our seats for the whole piece; what was the myth that The Visitor heard? Who is The Man? How did he end up on the mountain? And it leaves us guessing throughout. Freeburn and Dorman bounced off each other and definitely left me wanting more, although I’m not sure who I wanted to hear more about the most! Directed by Zara Marie Brown, the whole team behind this piece need applauding and I look forward to keeping an eye out for this in the future.
After the interval, we had ‘Town Hall Tantrums’ from Peter Edmondson. What seemed to start out as a satirical comedy, ended up as more of a fantasy piece, although I’m not fully sure how we got there. We started in the council where they were deciding which company to use to build the new city centre housing on the old park, then we are taken to the park where we meet Errol and Jimmy who meet the Mole of Edge Hill, who died in the 1800s. The use of the same cast in the two scenes was very clever, it just felt a bit jarring and unclear as to how we got from one scene to the other. With a bit of work and a few changes, this does promise to be a very satirical and thought-provoking play.
We ended the evening with ‘Blue Bra Red Undies’ by Darren Anglesea; which would definitely hit home for a lot of families on Merseyside. We met Dave (Phil Perez) and Trish (Pamela Ashton) who had been married for 27 years, even though Dave is an avid Liverpool FC fan and Trish is all about Everton. Every year on Derby Day they make a bet; Liverpool win and Dave gets some action; Everton win and Trish gets a holiday to a destination of her choosing. We learn how they met, their thoughts on the other and their love of their own team. It’s a funny piece that will ring true throughout Merseyside twice a year! Perez and Ashton worked well together and are definitely believable as a couple who had been together for 27 years, the only slight issue was a sound effect being played at the wrong moment and Perez staying in character to berate the sound desk. This felt like a piece that would definitely be sure to be a sell out to Liverpool crowds and could possibly be adapted for other football-crazy towns and cities, further down the line as well.
The Lantern Writers know how to put on a boss night, and I look forward to keeping an eye out for developed and developing pieces from them in the future.
The four pieces of the evening don’t qualify for a star rating at present, due to their short length, but I know North West End UK will be eagerly anticipating the full-length performances in future.
Reviewer: Jenn McKean
Reviewed: 5th November 2021