Well, the day has finally come, and MADEUP will be reporting on the closure of the Everyman and the big finale over the course of the weekend. The theatre has been asking the public for their memories and it will be exciting and poignant to hear the results — I’ve only been frequenting the Ev for the last ten years or so but it’s provided plenty of unforgettable evenings and moments. And quiche. So on a personal note, here’s my top ten:
1. Urban Legend was the first play by Laurence Wilson, a writer who has remained heavily involved with the Everyman. It was staged in 2004 and told the sad story of a poor Liverpudlian father and son forging through life in a high-rise after the death of the family matriarch. It’s no exaggeration that when the lights went up, there really wasn’t a dry eye in the house (which is strange, as the theatre described it as “starkly comic”). Just everyone was in floods, and couldn’t hide it as they filed out. (Verbatim play Unprotected, telling the real life stories of sex workers in Liverpool, had a similar tearjerking effect, although I only ever heard it as a Radio 4 play so won’t count it here). Urban Legend was an unforgettable and emotional production that was testament to the power of good theatre. It was particularly nice to see its standout young star Mark Arends again as Malcolm in Macbeth, the theatre’s final in-house production.
2. Speaking of which, hopefully not just because it’s the freshest in the mind, all hail David Morrissey’s Macbeth, sneaking in at the last minute as the best leading dramatic performance I’ve ever seen there. Or anywhere else.
3.Rupert Goold’s King Lear in 2008 brought a taste of the director’s stylish and typically gory predilections to the city. Charlotte Randal made a striking Regan, and got stuck into the famous eye-gouging scene with some gusto. The Echo’s description was quite priceless: “The graphic way she appears to use her mouth to suck out an “eye” during the blinding and then spit it or allow it to fall on the stage has upset some theatregoers who have felt faint and needed fresh air before they can continue watching.”
4. On a related, but altogether more gentle note, I’ll never forget interviewing Lear himself, Pete Postlethwaite in the lobby and having him fret I was letting the tea go cold while busy taking shorthand. “Shall I be mother?” he eventually huffed, which by all accounts is possibly as testy as he’d ever get.
5. From the ancient to the modern, the other highlight of Capital of Culture year was Eric’s, Mark Davies Markham’s love letter to the dingy Liverpool club that spawned some of the city’s best musical exports (aside from the obvious). Containing live performances of many international hits of the era, like The Cutter, Psycho Killer and What a Way to End it All, it was so vivid and passionate, it sticks in the mind clearly to this day.
6.Once you’ve seen an Everyman panto, life is never quite the same again. A Liverpudlian theatre tradition, it’s simply a big dollop of festive joy. Children, adults and critics alike are useless to resist the charms of pantoland king and queen, Adam Keast and Francis Tucker.
7. The Morris, staged in 2006, was a homage to all things Scouse, a tale of a ladies’ Morris dancing troupe taking part in a tournament and starring Tina Malone and Sarah ‘Bev from Brookside’ White. We had a fun girls’ night watching this one and although it can’t be said the show really stayed in the mind, it was worth it to see the stage transformed into a hilly field where the whole play took place. From that moment it has never failed to impress me just what the set designers at the Everyman can turn that space into, and walking into that auditorium has been a wonder and a joy ever since.
8. A large Shiraz and a dirty great bowl of those natchos they used to do in the Bistro had to be one of life’s most simple pleasures. Ditto the quiche. So farewell, then, the Bistro.
9. The Bistro has also been the setting for some great evenings with family and friends, with some of the most enjoyable being hosted by Echo journalist Peter Grant, who holds annual nights of poetry and song in the small function room. A more lovely, friendly, proper old-school Scouse evening you’d be hard to find.
10. Those who attend press nights at the Everyman will know they have always been fantastic fun, and are best known for the post-show speech from artistic director Gemma Bodinetz, who will stand on a chair for a bit of height and talk off the cuff and straight from the heart. It’s another example of really feeling you’re among friends and just one of so many things that makes the place so wonderfully unique. Plus, if you’re feeling bold there’s always the opportunity to politely pester “the talent”, just like this reprobate collaring Jonathan Pryce:
Of course, all you see there is a blurry picture of a celebrated actor and a scruffy critic in the lobby of the Everyman. I see this:
The magic of theatre.