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Down Our Street/Royal Court

Peter Grant on a musical with one of those big Mersey hearts

Written by . Published on April 18th 2013.


Down Our Street/Royal Court

CAMMELL Laird shipyard kept families alive for years. 

The Birkenhead community it nourished - decent, honest, working class folk -  acted as the glue for the big society years before David Cameron came along - the world before benefit capping was on the lips of any Eton Rifle.

Lenny Wood is a Royal Court Court stalwart and long may that continue. His rise from supporting role to lead character is shown by a performance
of real maturity

For well over a century and a half, ‘The Yard’ was the employer of thousands upon thousands of people building some of the most famous and greatest ships in history. 

Here, Brian McCann's production, Down Our Street, brings together a well-known Mersey crew who relish the chance to sing the praises of anything circulating the river banks.

The curtain raises to a set that is straight out of Blood Brothers and there are many strands throughout this show that acknowledge Willy Russell's masterpiece.

Sadly, there isn't a narrator, but a selection of cameo characters from the past, such as William Shakespeare and Winston Churchill.

The cast are incredibly versatile and some household names, such as Benidorm star Crissy Rock, stand-up legend Micky Finn and sexy Suzanne Collins, interact with their usual stage skills.

Lindzi Germain and Lynne Fitzgerald play Merseysiders with their typical great confidence. 

 Lesley Butler is as sparkling as ever and shines throughout every scene she is in, making a perfect desperate scousewife protecting the family and her friends from the tide of  a changing, austere world.

 

Down Our Street Royal Court Liverpool %282%29Down Our Street Royal Court Liverpool: Pics: dave "The Pap" Evans

Lenny Wood is a Royal Court Court stalwart and long may that continue. His rise from supporting role to lead character is shown by a performance of real maturity. Meanwhile, Royal Court newcomer Tom Hughes sings his heart out with a poignant anthem evoking the true pity of unemployment.

 

Roy Brandon knows what he is... a fine multi-tasker who engages and endears audiences. 

Down Our Street does what it says on the figurative can, showing us the struggles and desperation of uncertain lives.

It is a production that nods towards Dickens and every Oliver Twist adaptation, a celebration of dignity from the war years to the post war tears.

So, is it a great show?

Well,  it has its passion, warmth and the zest of the cast and that is there for all too see: a couple of hours of pure nostalgia fautlessly delivered by a  creative team who know their subject matter

Maybe it lacks the essential ingredient of lashings of jokes and one liners.

It lacks a cohesive structure in terms of a piece of storytelling.

Too much information , more songs please.

But this is a show that resonates in 2013 because what people are saying now is what they said way back then - all illuminated by back screen projetions of a  time scale we are all living through now.

Shipyards. Mines. Streets....

Unfortunately there are too many times when you can’t hear a Crissy Rock rant or a Micky Finn monologue.

That said, the Royal Court should be congratulated on staging a show that is a piece of local history. In that sense, Down Our Street is a massive achievement.

Brian McCann of Active Drama is one of the hardest working, most respected people I know and this show is a tribute to his vision and his ability to get the best out of those actors musicians who also see the bigger picture.

At the Royal Court, the audience doffed their caps, waved their flags and agreed that any musical play that says... I am here for you... are you here for me? It struck a chord.

A  heart-warming show that makes you stop, think and smell the roses that are here thanks to the sacrifices so many people made in Birkenhead and beyond.

A musical with its heart in the right place.

7/10

*Down Our Street, Royal Court, Liverpool, until Tuesday April 23

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