Trev Fleming reviews ‘Love, Liverpool’…
Friday just gone I visited the Playhouse Theatre in all its opulence to watch Love: Liverpool, a show billed as a love letter to the city. I’ve been living here for just over twenty years so it’s fair to say I like the place. What would other people have to say?
Devised and written based on material generated during lockdown, from people and organisations across the city region, a tapestry of voices was presented to us. Ranging from the scally lad dodging the train fare to the oh so middle-class lady with guide dog to hand. The ensemble cast excelled at portraying several characters each yet maintaining a number of core stories that we followed throughout.
While not a perfect production, a couple of line fluffs here and there- but those can be forgiven, it was a show full of charm and warmth. It is important to note that it wasn’t a piece of rose-tinted amazingness that sung the praises of a city without fault. There were stories of racial abuse, homophobia and chronic loneliness that did not paint the place where we live in a positive light at all. These stories stood alongside a narrative that acknowledged the bad yet highlighted the good to be found here.
The good lay, of course, in the people of the city; the individuals that make up this conurbation. We’ve all had experiences of the heart of this city, the caring nature that sets it aside from other places. Perhaps it comes from being a city that is vilified in national press as thieves and chancers. A defiance against the stereotypes.
The script, itself a tapestry made of homespun tales and exquisite poetry, wove the stories together in a semi-chaotic manner. The device of the train journey at the start being used to good effect as we follow the various passengers as they go about their various days. Each main character has the chance, and room, to shine and tell their warp or weft. There’s plenty of laughs at no-one’s expense, we’re definitely laughing with, not at ourselves. There are moments of shade as well as light, yet these do not dampen the storytelling, they only enhance it.
Everyone not born to this city will have a story about why they came and why they stayed. For me I came to study here. I stayed because I fell in love. This city made both possible, a place for the head and the heart.
The week before coming to Liverpool, as a nineteen-year-old sociology student, I was offered a bit of advice by my manager in work, himself a southerner from that London way. He said, ‘If you ever shake a Scousers hand, make sure to check your rings and your watch!’ He laughed on his way out of the chilled warehouse. Prick.
I’ve known Liverpool at its best and it’s worst. I’ve been helped on the street and beaten up on a bus. I’ve seen a lost dog been found in hours by social media warriors, turns out it was a lonely guy round the corner who’d taken him. I’ve heard of a friend’s motorbike being stolen, only for it to be rescued hours later by watchful friends.
This city is certainly not without its flaws, but it is a place that should be rightly celebrated. Love: Liverpool does just that.
Trev Fleming, Honorary Scouser, Liverpool.
Love: Liverpool continues at the Playhouse Theatre until Saturday 14th August. Tickets available here
Photographs by: Brian Roberts