Writer: Nicky Alt
Director: Bob Eaton
Reviewer: John Roberts
“When you walk through a storm hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the storm”
Now most readers of this site, may be forgiven for thinking this may be a review for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, however they would be wrong – this is all about Liverpool Football Club… Now Don’t worry if the thought of a 2.5hr long show about the history of LFC fills you with dread, it did for this non football loving male – however between Nicky Alt’s witty script and Bob Eaton’s simple but quick paced direction, YNWA is a heartfelt and humorous love letter to the football club that won this football cynic over.
Writer Nicky Alt has framed this cleverly constructed history of the football club with a rather loose storyline of a family who at the top of the show are burying their grandfather – a life-long Liverpool FC supporter, this helps Bob Eaton’s production to speedily zoom through the timeline of the club and help anchor the moments by using the family as a tie in. Now it is testament to how Eaton and the cast commit and deliver the material which is intersected with strong musical numbers and football chants that the storyline almost seems superfluous.
Bob Eaton brings his usual trademark of on stage band and strong ensemble to the forefront here and he has pulled together a gem of a cast who between them have an electrifying chemistry. Jake Abraham, Lindzi Germain, Mark Moraghan, Emily Linden, Rachel Rae, Daniel Ross, Stephen Pallister, Francis Tucker and Lenny Wood alongside on stage musical director Howard Gray (who can never not be part of a show) perform the multitude of characters that have given this club some of its rich history. Some of the characters larger than life, some purely caricature, some powerfully poignant but all with real heart and all true!
Played out an a simple set – part bar, part Shankley Gates and part Anfield terraces Mark Walters’ set design provides the perfect backdrop for the production. Alt’s writing is sharp and holds its tongue firmly in its cheek in typical “Scouse” fashion and that only makes this production even stronger, yet he is also not scared of touching upon some of the more poignant/darker moments – a touching section about the Hillsborough disaster being just one moment that brought many of the audience to tears – helped by a touching monologue from Lindzi Germain playing at this point a mother of a lost son, and the divine yet haunting vocals from Rachel Rae.
What makes this production so interesting is how even for a theatre-goer who doesn’t follow or know anything about the sport or the club, it’s incredibly easy to engage with the show, likewise its easy for the non theatre-loving goer who likes football to be just as engaged – I bet there will be many of them throughout the run. YNWA is not only a great show but it also brings up the similarities between football and theatre (and I don’t mean they both have two halves and a half-time/Interval) in which they both could learn an awful lot from each other!
Passionate and heartfelt YNWA is well worth a few hours of your time!
Photo – Dave Evans | Runs until 29th March 2014