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Review: Books, Theatre, Albums, Movies and Gigs

Madonna & Me

The Actors Studio, Liverpool
January 15 – February 2

Author: Tommy Kearney
Director: Pearl Marsland
Producer: Scouse Productions
Cast Includes: James Templeton, Lianne Curtis, Annmarie Hodson, Russell Morton, Suzanne Roche, Lee Clotworthy, Simon Brignull, Graeme Pickering, Anthony Pendlebury, Paul Scott, Ben Joseph

Running Time: 2 hrs

Image: Promotional image from 'Madonna & Me'.

When Tommy Kearney wrote this play two years ago, he couldn’t get it put on in his home City so, instead, turned to the carnivorous waters of London and survived its murky depths with great aplomb. Now, with the aid of Pauline Daniels and her newly born Actors Studio, Tommy has had his dream realised and its easy to see why the good people of the Capitol took so warmly to this skilfully crafted coming-of-age tragicomedy.

Image: James Templeton, Lianne Curtis and Russell Morton. Madonna and MeA group of friends grow up together on a council estate in Whiston and share life’s triumphs and disasters as a solid unit; always there for each other and always offering advice and a willing shoulder to cry on. They are one. They are a team. Until, that is, adulthood offers temptations and trials beyond their collective resistance and things begin to implode.

James Templeton, through whose eyes the story is told as both hind-sighted narrator and contemporary character, is quite simply mesmerising in his role as Adam. His delivery, sense of timing and poignancy are exemplary, as he skilfully guides the audience through the events as though he is their mate.

Image:Annmarie Hodson, James Templeton and Suzanne Roche. Madonna and MeLianne Curtis, too, as the adventurous Leanne, is also intriguingly powerful, throwing her all into the part and coming across as a natural – if naïve – seductress with such creativity and style it is difficult to take your eyes from her performance.

But to single out just two of the cast would be unjust, as the ingenuity of this show is in the beauty of all of its interwoven characterisations working so well with each other and in each player filling the stage with their individuality. Not least Annmarie Hodson who, as the troubled Paula, grows into her part from angst-filled teenager to impatient adult brilliantly, and Suzanne Roche as the “old-before-her-time” Mandy one knows is always going to be in for a troubled life.

Image: Lianne, Russell, Lee, Annmarie and James. Madonna and MeIf there is one criticism it is in the dance scene at Jodie’s, which is a little overplayed – if fabulously choreographed and executed – and adds little to a story that is compelling enough in any case. With that said, however, this is only a minor fault and Pearl Marsland has directed a play at Liverpool’s smallest theatre to rival in its writing that which is currently on offer at Liverpool’s largest.

Whiston and Merseyside should be proud of its playwriting sons – Willy Russell and Tommy Kearney – and should nurture the latter’s burgeoning talent for all its worth.

BBC.co.uk Chris High reviews 'Madonna and Me' for www.bbc.co.uk

More Information: http://www.madonna-and-me.co.uk / http://www.laaas.com  /

“Chris, thank you so much for the wonderful review you wrote for 'Madonna and Me'. I'm sure it will really help us in convincing people to come to our little venue and it has certainly given us a lot of confidence for the remainder of the run. We are having a lot of fun doing it and I'm glad you enjoyed the show!”
Lianne Curtis - from 'Madonna and Me' - January 2008



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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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