Members of Happystorm Theatre Company thought they were in for the long arm of the law this week after realising they’d parked a van full of violent-looking props in the middle of the Labour Party Conference site.
Joint artistic director Matthew Ganley thought a variety of fake guns and bombs had been left in the back of the van while they visited the Lantern Theatre to prepare for their upcoming show The Myth of Escape, and returned to find their section of the King’s Dock car park “swarming with police”.
After a previous run-in with armed Manchester riot police who thought a murder was taking place during rehearsals for their last production, Matthew feared the worst. “I was convinced I was going to end up in a cell. All I could think was the bomb, the noose, the gun,” he says.
His partner, joint artistic director Susi Wrenshaw, arrived to find the scene swarming with police. “The car park was deserted except for our van. There were police everywhere, looking under the van, going through the contents and talking on their radios. It was like something from a film.
“They said we were under suspicion as we had parked in a ‘sterile area’ and that they were going to tow the van away.”
While the police were running checks on the couple, they were allowed to have a few words with each other and Susi revealed she had just safely delivered the ‘terrorist props’ to the theatre.
Matthew said: “I felt a huge amount of relief. All that was left in the van was furniture, costume and bibles. After our police checks came back clear we showed the police our tour schedule, the flyers and posters and luckily they let us off with a warning.”Actors, eh?
Happystorm’s acclaimed political drama about how much civil liberty we are prepared to sacrifice in order to feel safe, is set in the wake of the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 and is described as “a provocative, timely piece that asks the question we are often too entrenched to ask ourselves… are any of us truly free?”
The Myth of Escape by Rob Johnston, directed by John Garfield-Roberts, will be at the The Lantern Theatre, 57 Blundell Street, Liverpool, L1 0AJ on Friday, October 7.
Tickets are £8 (£6) from the Lantern’s website or 0151 703 0000.