Tuesday, July 5

The Play Scratch Night – Online

I think it is fair to say the arts have been hit hard during the COVID19 pandemic with the closure of theatres, music venues and everything in between but what is quite beautiful, is that the amazingly passionate people of the art world have not stopped writing or creating new drama for the world to see.

Liverpool has been lucky enough to still have its own arts festival running at this time. The LightNight festival has given hope to the people of Liverpool over the last while by showcasing everything from large-scale light projections and live music to workshops on spoken word, art, crafts and theatre. LightNight has also seen a string of events such as street performance, walking tours, dancing and late-opening exhibitions taking place right across the city centre.

LightNight is produced by Liverpool-based social enterprise Open Culture. One of their most recent events was the play scratch night hosted by Yolanda Mercy. This was accessed virtually by a range of theatre enthusiasts and it showcased four new pieces of work created by the community.

Yolanda Mercy, who is an experienced writer and workshop leader, invited anyone, new to writing or experienced, to her Writing Lab in the lead up to LightNight. Following this, four monologues were shortlisted to be showcased from 50 entries which were virtually performed on 21st of May 2021.

After tuning in, the audience are welcomed professionally by Yolanda, who also introduces the BSL interpreter and the live closed captioning making the show accessible and inclusive. Dan Regan supports the hosting throughout.

The first piece was called ‘Wasted’ which was written and performed by Emma Rydal. The first thing you note is Emma’s accent and tone, giving her instant characterisation. Emma’s monologue had a variety of different styles as she talked directly to the audience to start and then we meet another character in a flashback. The story follows a young mum who has got into trouble (not for the first time) as she tries to justify herself.

What I really liked about this performance was the timing and execution as despite the virtual screen, the two performers interrupted one another and interacted expertly. The piece was written with lots of emotion and the audience are forced to consider how that ultimate dream of ‘winning the lotto’ can have little positive impact.

The second piece was written by Irene Stuart and titled ‘It Happened One Night, Honestly’. From the get-go, the writer has the audience chuckling at the local phrases and language used by this character.  Pauline Daniel’s performs the piece with class as she reads and acts the part of a lively scouser. The piece was cleverly written with lots of comedy to visualise, giving it authenticity as you could picture every part of the story unfolding.

The third piece titled ‘Heavy is the head’ was written by Victoria Dyson. This piece is quite reflective to start however it takes a comedic twist as the character evolves. Kevin Harvey is smooth in his supporting role and the theme of age gives the audience lots to relate to and think about. The use of music immerses the audience even further into this scene. 

The last piece called ‘Give it up and start again’ was written by Mark Daveron. This piece is surrounded by mystery as the setting is unclear and you spend time wondering what exactly is going on. The surprising revelation at the end gave this piece lots depth and left the audience a little stunned with lots of think about after it had finished. 

Overall, the actors were brilliant, with particular congratulations to Pauline Daniels for her diversity and slick performances. The organisers have done a fantastic job in choosing four different pieces that can be enjoyed by all. Four well-written pieces that prove the future for art, writing and drama in Liverpool is still shining bright!

The show can be watched on demand at www.lightnightliverpool.co.uk

Reviewer: Blathine Maguire

Reviewed: 12th June 2021

*No star rating given due to multiple plays

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