As the creator of some of the most iconic crime dramas across the past thirty years, Lynda La Plante more than deserves the iconic status she has been afforded. Widows, The Governor, Trial & Retribution and, of course, Prime Suspect have all spilled from a fertile and deeply creative imagination which has, as she explained here at The St George’s Hall Small Concert Room before a packed and attentive audience, been aided and abetted by the willingness to research and portray incidents and characters accurately.
Groundbreaking is an often overused term. In the case of Lynda La Plante, however, it is more than appropriate.
To those unfamiliar with the In Conversation format, the evening is a This Is Your Life concept, intermingled with a touch of Desert Island Discs inasmuch as live, local bands perform a selection of the guest’s favourite songs. This was the ninth such event and, as always, the music supplied was exemplary and goes to serve as a reminder should one be necessary that the depth of talent in Liverpool is mesmerising, but more of this later.
Mike Neary once more took on the role of interviewer and, it has to be noted that with each passing guest who crosses the stage in this magnificent room, the more relaxed, assured and confident he appears. Direct, yet subtle. Admiring but never condescending, there are many other hosts who could learn a great deal from Neary’s manner and style, particularly as he allows his guests the freedom to answer the questions he poses in their own way, in their own time and without unnecessary interruption.
From her early days as an actress with the RSC, through to her appearances on The Playhouse stage in Rep and onto her peers such as Anthony Hopkins, Warren Clarke, Jean Boht and John Savidant, the first half flew past, despite being punctuated by a sublime performance of In My Life by The Beatelles and a rendition of Wind Beneath My Wings by Anna Corcoran which brought floods of tears from the principal guest dues top its power and controlled delivery.
The second act focussed on Ms La Plante’s writing career and such is the veracious enthusiasm with which she speaks about her work, it is impossible – particularly as a writer – not to be inspired.
There was more music too. The magnificently quirky Barbieshop – dressed in 1950’s red dresses embroidered with all manner of musical instruments – delivered a quintessentially unique and unforgettable acapella version of Guns ‘n’ Roses rocker, Sweet Child Of Mine, which really shouldn’t have worked but did, magnificently. Also superb was Liverpool Music Award winner, Natalie McCool, who’s Brothers In Arms – chosen by the author in honour of her much critically maligned but nonetheless powerfully important drama Civvies – which once more brought tears from the guest of honour.
Yet, without trying to demean or undermine the other performers, the musical highlight of the evening was saved to last, as Emma Dears and Ruth Alexander Rubin tore up the rules as to how You’ll Never Walk Alone should be sung and delivered such a powerfully emotive version of a song that has been more or less hijacked by the football terraces, it brought a physical lump to many a throat in the auditorium.
The ninth In Conversation event, in short, was a triumph and it is little wonder that talks are well underway to take the concept further afield. Long may these productions continue and long may Little Atom continue to gain the recognition they so richly deserve for staging these events so brilliantly.