Tonight, I was lucky enough to be reviewing Helen Forrester’s ‘By the waters of Liverpool’ written by Rob Fennah and directed by Gareth Tudor Price. The play was meant to be at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre but sadly due to its closure it was moved to the M&S Arena auditorium. Which actually seemed more fitting considering the title of the play.
This play is a follow on from the previous ‘Two Pence across the Mersey’ which I had previously reviewed. This play set in 1939 on the brink of World War Two. As the play opened, we hear Neville Chamberlain making that dreaded amount from the cabinet room of 10 Downing Street. The story back tracks a couple of years prior when Helen (Emma Mulligan) is aged 18. We see that during this time in Helen’s life, her father (Tom Roberts) has become bankrupt due to a few miss judgements when it came to investing. Because of these decisions the family Mother, sister and brother (Lyn Francis), Samantha Alton and Joe Owens) had to leave their home help such as nannies and servants. By the time Helen is becoming 20 years old she realises that she would like to work in the big world of Liverpool to bring further income into the household as the family is forever borrowing or putting furniture on credit that is hen later repossessed. Against Helen’s mothers wishes she gets work but by the time childcare costs were taken out she was practically working for free. As the show progressed, we hear from Helen that she’s never been kissed or dated a boy. Until one tall stranger comes into her life (Joe Gill)
The play in total was around 2 hours and although it was a beautiful piece of theatre. I do think it was a bit long. Although this is a follow on from their previous play. Don’t be put off by not seeing the first one to see this as they both stand alone as beautiful stories. We were guided through the story by the cast through various multi-rolling from cast members. It was sometimes confusing, whilst it was told by Helen in its majority. I think adding other narrators left some audience members confused. However, this production had dancing and beautiful moments between the characters which showed how hard times were within the war torn Liverpool but there was love. As well as the Adelphi hotel.
This production is touring and would recommend watching. Whether you are a fan of the books from Helen Forrester, or a complete novice like myself. Other cast members included Daniel Taylor, Roy Carruthers and Lyn Fitzgerald.
Reviewer: Luke Stephenson
Reviewed: 6th September 2023
North West End UK Rating: