Welcome to the first installment of MADEUP’s best of 2013. This year, I’ve moved away from picking winners across different categories awards-style, and simply compiled a list of some of the most memorable plays, events, songs and moments that have showcased Liverpool’s theatre scene at it’s very best. Unsurprisingly, it got a bit long, so will be split across three posts. Here we go…
1. A Tommy Wiseau Valentines (FACT, February)
Tommy Wiseau, the cinematic loon behind cult movie The Room, paid a visit to Liverpool for special screenings of his work on a UK Valentine’s tour. He came, he saw, he played American football in the bar – It was all suitably weird.
2. Cometh the hour, cometh John Owen-Jones (Phantom of the Opera, Liverpool Empire, March)
One of the definitive West End and Broadway Phantoms, Owen-Jones saved the day in March on the bizarre occasion of the star of the show and his understudy both being unable to perform on the opening night in Liverpool. The result was a one-off show to die for and a new obsession for MADEUP. “There are hardly the superlatives,” I wibbled in awe when I’d finally stopped crying like a girl. (Owen-Jones would go on to steal the show at Bryn Terfel’s Night at the Musicals concert at the Phil later in the year.)
3. Walking back out into the street after watching Papertown (March)
YEP staged their high-concept devised work Papertown around Camp and Furnace. When the piece ended the audience was left out on the street to revel in the aftermath of a rather special and unique experience. Read the review here.
4. Rene Zagger in Hope
TV star Rene Zagger (pictured below with Samantha Womack) was among the big names in Scot Williams’s psychological drama Hope at the Royal Court in March. His comic performance as spaced-out flatmate Guy was a constant scene stealer and an early shoe-in for one of the best of the year.
5. Tomorrow I’ll be Happy (The Bluecoat, March)
Youth theatre group Altru Drama tackled this touching Jonathan Harvey play as part of the National Theatre’s Connections project. Read more about it here.
6. Amateur Chekhov impresses (no, really)
Community group Liverpool Network Theatre took on a bit of Chekhov this year at the Lantern theatre with a production of Uncle Vanya, and the results proved a surprisingly enjoyable gateway into the world of Russian melodrama (review).
7. Neil Bell suffers for his art
Tony Teardrop was an unusual enough work as it was – an adaptation of an Esther Wilson radio play about the homeless, staged in the grounds of the Bombed Out Church. An unseasonal cold snap meant ice and snow was on the ground in late March, and actor Neil Bell (pictured, top) braved out an already exceptional performance in minus temperatures by having to do a key dramatic scene stripped to the waist. Ouch.
8. A sticky end in Tongues
Tongues was a rude and crude horror play in the vein of The Exorcist staged at 81 Renshaw in March, memorable for the inventive and suitably gory way tormented lead character Mark (Eddie Fortune) managed to dispatch himself in police custody.
9. Goin’ West
Yeeeeee ha! The annual improvathon was always going to make the list, and this year’s Wild West themed, 33.5 hour off-the-cuff marathon brought the laughs like nothing else you could find on stage. Here’s a review of sorts; and here’s a chat with the brains behind the unusual event.
10. A Day in the Death of Joe Egg
Another no-brainer; brilliant play, brilliant director, brilliant cast. Comedy meets tragedy in Peter Nichol’s modern classic, brought to life again by Stephen Unwin in a joint production from the Liverpool Playhouse and Rose Theatre Kingston. MADEUP reviewed the show here; and had a chat with one of its stars, the lovely, lovely Ralf Little here.
Part two – May to August – coming soon…