It’s difficult to do a city as diverse and energetic as Liverpool justice in 80 minutes, but LOVE, LIVERPOOL does just that. In this socially distanced performance at the Playhouse, the five cast members showcase some of the city’s finest landmarks, the all-encompassing sense of community, and of course a demonstration of the phrases that only really sound right coming from a Scouser- in short, it’s boss.
Incorporating a myriad of background projections and clever use of simple but effective staging, we start our journey on a train through the Wirral heading for Liverpool. It is a somewhat slow start as the audience are allowed short glimpses into the lives of the characters through varying individual monologues. From a mother recalling when her daughters were young, to a man who really just wants to hang out with a friend at the pub, we see a catalogue of characters we empathise and sympathise with as the play unfolds.
Love, Liverpool is based upon a collection of Everyman Theatre podcasts that began back during the first lockdown where people of Liverpool told their favourite stories of life in the city. Stories of love, hope, loss, and friendship from the past and present which have been brought to the stage with staggering grace and humanity.
Many stories are delicately woven together in this performance teeming with skill, as actors migrate from character to character with ease and conviction. It’s a testament to the quality of the acting that the audience don’t get lost throughout what could seem to be random interjections, perhaps aimed at embodying the chaos and hubbub of a city, and that a plot slowly forms between characters.
Lighting techniques and minimal props allow the audience to focus on the actors as they reel us into their characters’ lives. Dynamic use of multi-media in the form of projections and videos brings another dimension to the production inviting us into other stories, creating a bustling world that absorbs the audience into Liverpool’s community.
Love, Liverpool captures happiness and joy with enthusiasm- Aron Julius’ performance on his home in Toxteth is electrifying- but still seeks to remind that reality isn’t always sunny. The uglier side of things is dealt with in raw performances from Julius and Nathan McMullen, deftly reminding the audience that whilst modern times strive to be accepting, tensions still bubble under the surface around race and homophobia.
We see how mental health can affect anyone at any time in their life and that sometimes it takes something unexpected to get you back on your feet. McMullen and Jennifer Varda deliver wonderful emotionally charged performances that bring the audience back down to earth yet are peppered with wit and humour.
Love, Liverpool is moving and engaging with more than a little humour to take the edge off, it makes you feel proud to be part of such an enigmatic city full of every kind of person and it’ll probably make you want to incorporate ‘sound’ into your everyday vocabulary.