Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool
November 25 – January 15
Author: Fred Lawless
Director: Bob Eaton
Producer: Royal Court
Cast Includes: Alan Stocks, Rachel Rae, Stephen Fletcher, Lindzi Germain, Paul Duckworth,
Andrew Schofield, Zoei Cozens, Niamh Fitzgerald, Kay Staunton, Sarah Walker
Running Time: 2 hrs 10 mins
As flurries of white stuff fell fleetingly onto the frozen forecourt outside, Fred Lawless launched his Royal Court Christmas show, Scouse Pacific, on a public festooned with festivity and fed up to the back teeth with ferociously shivering. On the back up of last year’s successful Merry Ding-Dong, there was a lot to live up to but Scouse Pacific, though outrageously silly, not only manages to keep up with its forerunner but on occasion actually surpasses it for laughs.
On a cold and windy winter’s night, what better remedy could there possibly be to those increasing chills and mounting bills than an evening watching something that requires very little thought, is quite surreal and, ultimately, is both cleverly written, brilliantly acted and a whole lot of crazy?
In 1800, a Scouse whaler is washed up on a desert island inhabited only by man-hungry women. 210 years later, Father O’Flaherty and his troupe – the all singing Von Trappist nuns – suffer a similar fate, only to be confronted by the offspring of the original poor unfortunate, who only know of Liverpool by reading washed-up editions of the Liverpool Echo newspaper and yet hanker to experience the sights and sounds of their ‘homeland’ for themselves.
Under normal circumstances, this would be a play on which to turn the page quite quickly, but with Lawless’s uncanny ability to make even the most ridiculous plot work and what he delivers is Fun with a very capital “F”.
Aided and abetted by Musical Director Howard Grey, its not the story that counts but the feeling that everything – though performed brilliantly by all concerned – is just one tiny step from disaster and so envelopes the audience in a side-joke that is both engaging and, strangely, edifying.
With some truly terrible puns, some word craft to die for and with so much laughter filling the auditorium, it is safe to say that, although hardly the most original play around, Scouse Pacific is without doubt one that will keep those who see it warm until April and the theatre’s next production following refurbishment.