Tuesday, November 28

Swan Song – Unity Theatre

I have just returned home from Liverpool’s Unity Theatre, or for the purposes of this evening a high school back in 1997.

Swan song is a metaphorical phrase for a final gesture, effort, or performance given just before death or retirement all I can say is that I truly hope that this is not Andrew Lancel’s swan song because he is outstanding in this role.

I don’t quite know what I was expecting tonight but Lancel’s portrayal of the character was the polar opposite to any role you may have seen him in previously. Andrew has had a celebrated career including several leading roles in television. I personally can’t look at him without picturing his character from Coronation Street. I also saw him in the national tour of The Sound of Music last year in Blackpool. The guy seems to be able to do anything!

Swan Song was specially adapted for Lancel, originally it was a comedy by acclaimed playwright Jonathan Harvey and was first staged in 1997 with a female actress in the leading role.

The stage was sparce and dark apart from a school table set up with a few props and a chair.

The music on entering the auditorium was themed 90’s upbeat classics and these were also carefully selected between the five separate sections of the performance. The music helped to take us on the journey back to the late 90’s.

He took on the role of a camp, middle aged school teacher Dave, who works in Liverpool but is going on a school trip to the Lake District. Lancel has such a lilting, calming tone and the comic timing was perfect, he’s truly a seasoned pro and so at home onstage. He embodied the character with his stance, posture, mannerisms and tone.

I felt due to my age some of the humour was slightly lost on me, particularly the name referencing from the era, some of whom I’d never heard of the audience however, found it hilarious.

I couldn’t help but think, how on earth has he remembered all of this, entirely alone, no cues, no breaks, it’s just seamless. 70 minutes of acting alone is a very long time, and not once did my mind drift off or did I realise I was in a theatre watching an actor.

The creative team really worked hard on this, Flawless direction from Noreen Kershaw, genius production by Bill Elms Productions and stage management from Osian Griffiths.

Book your tickets, you won’t be disappointed. My only disappointing moment was when I realised it was the end. https://www.unitytheatreliverpool.co.uk/whats-on/swan-song-by-jonathan-harvey-2/

Performances running through to Saturday 3rd July 2021, at 5pm and 7.45pm.

To follow the show page for more tour dates Facebook @SwanSongOnStage

Reviewer: Rebecca Casey

Reviewed: 1st July 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★