The Actors Theatre, Liverpool
Author: Jim Cartwright
Producer: Monty Silver Promotions
Director: Paul Carmichael
Cast: Lynne Fitzgerald and Louis Emerick
Set in a somewhat rundown pub in Liverpool, we meet the landlord and his wife whose relationship is unhappy and antagonistic. Through the evening we encounter some of their patrons whose lives have their own complexities and sadness. It is ‘a place of failed aspirations and unfulfilled lives.’ The play’s tag line is ‘2 actors, 14 characters, one masterpiece’ and the performances from Lynne Fitzgerald and Louis Emerick do not disappoint.
This type of theatre leaves no room for error as the actors are constantly on stage and any mistakes would be painfully obvious so it is a brave undertaking but one that ultimately pays off as both give consistently excellent performances.
The characters reflect different parts of our society that come together in one place, yet pass each other by un-noticed. The couple with OCD who are clearly on the edges of society are sensitively portrayed: ‘unlucky in life and sort of lucky in love’ is the most positive comment they can make about their lives, yet still there is a glimmer of hope and happiness in this sad tale. The characters of Maud and Moth seem perfect vessels from the comic performances of our two actors who had the entire audience in stitches. Maud’s bizarre facial twitches and cackling laughter are equally matched by Moth’s brilliantly awful dancing and embarrassing chat up lines. This is a cleverly orchestrated and well acted scene of comic genius.
Throughout the performance the audience is rocketed between real emotional extremes: anger at the violence we inflict on one another; sadness at life not working out how we had planned; humor and laughter at those moments where we laugh despite everything. This rollercoaster of emotions finally come to a head when our landlord and lady have a brutally honest confrontation that reveals the source of their terrible sadness.
This final scene oozes raw emotion and utterly draws the audience in as we watch the last of their façades unravel, revealing them as damaged people who are desperate to be loved and forgiven.
This has to be the crowning glory of Lynne Fitzgerald’s and Louis Emerick’s performance in what is a poignant, moving and hysterically funny play that will leave you thinking about it long after the final bow.
Nina Lloyd Jones