Monday, April 22

Lantern Lites – The Casa Theatre

Lantern Lites are a writing group based in Liverpool who meet on a weekly basis and tonight they showcase some of their latest pieces at The Casa Theatre, Liverpool. Lantern writers aim to produce new and exciting work on a regular basis by supporting one another through the writing development process.

The first play showcased tonight was ‘Child’s Play’ written and directed by Mark Davoren.  This is a comedy abstract from a full play where we meet a very young Mark who faces the challenge of growing up with two devious sisters. The writing is very unique in that it covers themes we don’t often see on stage. It was great to see drama which moves away from typical themes of love, soul seeking and big quests! This piece felt very light and made for easy watching. For future development, I would love to see a bigger contrast in the characterisation between young mark interacting with his sisters and older Mark who reflects and talks directly to the audience. Credit to actors Josh Ennis, Christina Rose and Rachel McGrath for bringing this show to life.

The second performance was ‘Playaway’ which has been written and directed by Irene Stuart. Within this monologue, we meet Jeff, a fed-up driving instructor who becomes very suspicious when his wife of 25 years rolls out the red carpet on a Wednesday evening for no apparent reason! Robbie James Williamson gave a slick performance, bringing reality, curiosity and humour to his acting. The strength in the writing of this piece was noted through the audience reactions as there was a lot of laughter around the room and Robbie kept everyone engaged until the very end.

‘Sweet Revenge’ was the name of the next drama which Martin Hoskins has not only written and directed but he ended up starring in this piece too due to a COVID affecting the original actors.  The Cast, which also included Mary Savage, delivered admirably considering they were still on script. Mary in particular managed to convey her emotional and feisty character very well, despite the challenges. Although a little bit on the farfetched side, this piece kept the audience guessing and wondering where things were going. Possible potential a real mystery thriller here!

The next piece of the night to be written and directed by Irene Stuart was ‘The Two Johnnies’. This piece follows two friends who appear to be at crisis point as the later years are trickling in. This performance took a few unexpected twists and towards the end, I felt it got a little too silly. Although very fun to watch, I think the writing and performance needs to go a little deeper emotionally. In saying that, the cast made up of Iain Barrie, Charles Britton and Julia Price appeared to be having a blast which shone brightly all around the room.

The fifth performance of the evening, ‘Snookered!’ was written by Joe Lewis and directed by Donna M Day. We meet George, who is a pretty ridiculous referee due to his poor eyesight and questionable decision making. Martin Hoskins gives an amusing performance and PJ Murray’s brings a great lively energy to the stage that’s enjoyable to watch. ‘Snookered!’ is a pleasant and engaging piece and I think the development of George’s character could add greatly to the comedy.

‘Pippa Get Ready’ was the last performance of the evening which was nicely introduced by Jamie McLoughlin who has written and directed this monologue. Jen Cartwright plays the vibrant character of ‘Pippa’ who we get to know the measure of straight away. The local links within this piece are quite relatable as everyone knows the relationship between scousers and their Nans are like no other! I think the length of the piece could be altered as on a few occasions, I felt like Pippa had ‘went off on a tangent’ however this may also be the intention for this energetic and bubbly character.

As tonight’s performances were all short pieces, North West End do not give a star rating however I would highly recommend Latern Writers if you are interested in writing, seeing new drama or just enjoy some variety and fun! Congrats to everyone for involved for keeping performance writing very much alive and kicking!

Reviewer: Blathine Maguire

Reviewed: 7th October 2021