Tuesday, November 28

Leaving – Hope Street Theatre

This was the second night of a quartet of new plays written by Liverpool Scriptshop playwrights. Selected from many scripts submitted, Scriptshop wanted to present four of these new pieces as part of the exciting Liverpool Fringe Theatre Festival 2021.

The theme, like the previous pair of plays, was all about leaving in one form or another.

The third play in this quartet is Left Behind written and directed by Tom McLennan and centred around a couple Margie (Sarah Wood and Mick (Tommy Tyler Morgan) trying to come to some sort of agreement during a family crisis.

The couple’s discussions alluding to both Brexit and the UK political landscape was quite sparky and their differing opinions and thoughts made for some good solid drama. We see their marriage unravel as the days lead up to Brexit and beyond.

Their dwindling relationship very much echoes the whole political debate as whether to stay in or walk away.

McLennan’s playful script was intelligent and bright and both Wood and Morgan gave some great performances as the argumentative couple. The set design was good and the use of news clips on the radio really helped to move their story along.

A really nice little piece with genuinely warm and believable characters.

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★

The final play in this quartet of new plays is Elegy written by Mari Lloyd and directed by Michelle Parker.

This is a story about a retired nursing officer returning to the hospital she worked in many years ago but this time as a patient. The word play at first is quite intriguing and Parker’s excellent direction throughout really does move the action along at a good pace but I thought the play itself was too long and in need of some editing.

The “Greek chorus” elements of the show really didn’t do it for me; frankly they were quite irritating and rather odd. Also, I felt a few more meaningful silences or short pauses would’ve benefitted the play as a whole – with careful editing, this could be a very different play altogether.

The play had all the best of intentions, and I knew what Lloyd was trying to say about our beloved NHS, both its past and its fragile future but it just needed to be much leaner and lighter. On the plus side Parkers set was quirky and fun and her use of lighting and sound first class.

Performances were generally good but special mentions must be given to Michael Leane as Frank, who gave us a deeply resonant and poignant piece of acting. As part of the chorus of voices, Pam Ashton stood out with a solid and reliable performance.

Many congratulations and thanks to Kate McAuliffe and Norman Woods of Liverpool Scriptshop for giving all four writers the opportunity to stage their plays. All very different, all great fun and good to know that this company offers so much support and guidance to new writers on Merseyside – so well done!

North West End UK Rating: ★★★

Reviewer: Kiefer Williams

Reviewed: 6th October 2021