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Review: Scouse Pacific/Royal Court

Mike Chapple is enraptured by Fred Lawless's panto alternative

Published on December 3rd 2010.


Review: Scouse Pacific/Royal Court


THE temptation was to start off with - in what they used to call, in journalese, - the delayed drop intro.

That is: Begin in sniffy, John Junor 1970s-era drivel, about how "One" was expecting the worst of this Christmas production.

Lawless's punchy script is full of cringingly obvious, see-'em-coming-a-mile-away jokes which are still funny, even so

Spread over some 800 words it would have ended - ta-da! - with "One" being pleasantly surprised about how marvellous the production was. Ying, yang, etc etc.

But no, let's cut to the chase about Scouse Pacific: go and see it. Now!

(If it's three in the morning and you're sitting on the crapper reading this on your iPad then obviously belay that order).

But otherwise if I could grab you by the metaphorical collars - or bra straps - then you will find a very welcome seasonal pick-me-up.

2010122Story-Scousepacific3
Even though it has very little to do with traditional pantomime (“scouse-o-mime” would be more appropriate) Royal Court writing vet Fred Lawless has hit pay-dirt with an undeniably silly bit of sea spray.

You can derive much of the plot from just the title itself, like other of Lawless's works such as A Fistful of Collars and Slappers and Slapheads.

Descendants of proud Billy Riley, shipwrecked two centuries ago on the South Pacific island of Secosu (work it out, you div!) hanker for the legendary pastures of Liverpool.


Then, into their midst, bumbles a hapless missionary priest, Father O'Flaherty, and his harem, The Sisters of Mersey (bu-bum!). Add to the mix a dastardly Wirralian, Roger Burke - of holiday firm “Burke and Head”, of course - a contemporary relative of Billy's nemesis, Captain Hoylake, who is determined to develop the island into a paradise resort, the scene is all set.

Outside of the cliche, however, from mutated songs from the original musical - does

(Childwall) Valley High take your fancy? - to a hefty borrowing of the theme from another other Royal Court smash Brick Up The Mersey Tunnels, it all works, er, rather brilliantly.

Lawless's punchy script is full of cringingly obvious, see-'em-coming-a-mile-away jokes which are still funny, even so. Bob Eaton's direction is as sharp as ever, with no flagging in the entertainment even when it's expected most ie after an especially exuberant first half.

The set, by Mark Walters, is economical yet still vibrantly inventive, something of a Royal Court hallmark.

And then there's the songs overseen by musical director Howard Gray. If there was a member of the copyright police in the audience they would have a field day even allowing for the South Pacific adaptations.

Some of them, though, were stupidly, adolescently, superb: most significantly the version of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. This not only featured an impressive guitar solo from Royal Court perennial Andrew Schofield but a great damning chorus of scousers bellowing "A Hoylake! No!. We will not let him go!"

And so, yes, to Mr Schofield.

How fortunate we are that Drew has kept his loyal patronage to this city.

Bleasdale's former Scully was as good as ever in one of the principal parts as "our" Terry, as was firebrand local comedienne Lindzi Germain, who only has to pull her customary face of a bulldog chewing a wasp to get howls of laughter.

Burke (Paul Duckworth), Dick (Stephen Fletcher), Donna Marie ( a fine pair of lungs from Rachel Rae), O'Flaherty (Alan Stocks) and the lovely Sisters (Zoei Cozens, Niamh Fitzgerald, Kay Staunton, Sarah Walker ) were great too.

All of them seemed to be at ease, apparently enjoying working with each other and ad-libbing akimbo with an appreciative audience. Which, I suppose, is the way panto should be.

The only ominous note to proceedings could be found in the programme notes of Court head honcho Kev Fearon's who warns that the recession will be hitting harder next year.

Hopefully, this will prove to be a Squirrel Nutkin style winter warmer which will carry theatre through to many more years to come.

After all, the theatre, its actors and Scouse Pacific deserve your support.

This is not a Public Information Service advert on behalf of the Luvvies Party.

It's truth. Believe it.

9/10

*Scouse Pacific runs until Jan 8.

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AnonymousDecember 2nd 2010.

This sounds terrible

live theatre loverDecember 3rd 2010.

OH NO IT ISNT !!!!!
Anonymous - youre missing out if you miss this one. Best panto Ive seen. Lots of fun from a talented cast.

Professor ChucklebuttyDecember 6th 2010.

Anonymush, I am sometimes put off by "Scouse" labelled things but while this may not be everyones cup of tea,it has to be said that neither is the umpteenth production of Shakespeare's St Michaels in the Hamlet, Troilus and Cressington or The Merry Wives of Windsor Street. The main thing is these productions, as I've said before, are filling theatre seats and lots of people love them and have a great evening.

Not everyone wants to come out of the theatre suicidal and angst ridden, well not unless they go to a Morrisey concert but I doubt he'll be back for a while, I heard the drink went to his head last time. Nor do we have to come out of the theatre pondering the meaning of life and questioning the dynamics of the human condition. Although my Missus is often questioning me about how I got in this condition or ended up in the pond.

So yes, a lot of people want to go to the theatre for other reasons and it's something upon which we pride ourselves in this city. It's called 'avin a laugh.

But if you want to pretend 'Much Ado About Nothing' is a barrel of laughs, go 'ed and enjoy it. I won't have a go at you, if that's your cup of tea instead, i won't even have a dig at you for checking your Brodies notes, so you know when to laugh hysterically and nod to the people in the next seats Last time I went to see King Lear, they had to dry my seat afterwards and that's not even one of Shakespeare's funniest.

So well done to Fred Lawless and the cast for continuing to give a lot of people a good night out. Diversity,inclusion and offering something for everyone, that's the key to success in the theatres.

I hope his success continues and maybe he can pull a few more people away from being glued to the X-Factory.

I wonder if Wagner has been signed up for Panto yet? Or god forbid Ann Widdicombe - that'd be a good threat to get the kids to behave - Pack it in or I'll take you to see Ann Widdicombe in Mother Goosestep.

Royal Court Press BlokeDecember 10th 2010.

Good news folks as this has now been extended for an extra week. It will now run until Saturday 15 January so you can get your dose of silliness in the dark times of the New Year.

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