Sunday, December 3

Dirty Old Town & Out Of The Woodwork – Hope Street Theatre

Dirty Old Town

Hope Street Theatre tonight offered up a double bill of theatrical flavours:  Marigold Lately in Dirty Old Town: a one woman show as a bitter-sweet starter. Followed by Lee Clotworthy’s new farce Out Of The Woodwork- a tasty meat-feast of laughter.

Mikyla Jane Durkan and Lee Clotworthy both Liverpool theatre-makers, collaborated on this shared evening. For me, there was a certain amount of disconnect in styles but if you are looking for variety then you certainly won’t be disappointed.

The first half gives us a stand-up routine perhaps more at home in cabaret or a comedy club.  There is no doubt Durkan is an experienced performer but sometimes the lines blurred between what was Marigold’s truth and Durkan’s own… or was that the point? There were plenty of issues raised: mental health, suicide, sexual abuse. Plenty of poignant political statements about homelessness, racial bias and class corruption – all valid points. We saw glimpses of many characters and equally many accents. There were jokes about the Wirral and Ellesmere Port – well, aren’t there always? But as Marigold meanders her way through a montage of narratives, into audience participation and even Algebra: where fractions equate to how long a penis is…I felt I was lost in a kaleidoscopic stream of consciousness, swimming against the tide and then found myself on the train to Southport without a ticket. That’s not to say there wasn’t some good stuff in there, it just felt fragmented and disjointed. Maybe we were seeing into the mind of the fragile Marigold, a middle-aged woman desperately trying to find herself.  That said, the audience gave some good reactions and although it wasn’t my taste, like marmite, I’m sure plenty were lapping it up.

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Out Of The Woodwork

The second half gave us a pacey scouse farce that kept us laughing. Presumably Clotworthy also directed it and there were plenty of plot twists and action to move this short piece along.

After her husband has walked out on her, Pat and her best friend Lindsay are settling down to watch the X-factor with a bottle of prosecco, when her life is about to change to the tune of 30 million. Friends, neighbours and enemies all come creeping out the woodwork when they hear the news but… no further plot spoilers because it really is worth a watch if you can. Suffice to say, as with all farce there’s plenty of frantic comings and goings, endless doorbells and phones. There’s even a very funny wizard of Oz sequence too.

Pat, played very convincingly by Sam Richardson, is surrounded by a toxic sister-in-law (Roxanne Male), a spoilt, ungrateful daughter (Eve Bowles), a two-timing, rat of a husband (Mike Newstead), the daughter’s grotesque boyfriend (Francis Brack) and the best friend, who turns out to be something quite different (Geraldine Moloney Judge) all of whom turn in strong performances with some great characterisation and very funny one-liners.

The set, a living room in a house in Huyton, is aesthetic with some well-chosen ‘pops’ of colour, as well as a good use of a staircase. Sound and lighting enhancing the mania.

Clotworthy uses some stereotypical scouse traits to get the laughs but actually there’s some really sharp, well-crafted writing in there: lean and punchy- keeping it on its toes. As a one-act it could do well at festivals but developed into a two act, potentially might well be Royal Court material.

All in all – A good laugh to round off the evening.

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewer: Bev Clark

Reviewed: 16th November 2023