Anthology, performed by the same cast of ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, which is still running concurrently with it at the Everyman, is a collection of seven new short plays by some of Liverpool’s best-known writers, all performed at the same time. That’s the bit that’s simple enough to explain. Where on earth would there be room to put on such an undertaking? We’re going to have to take things outside….
Audience members are assigned a prop upon entry that allocates them their story. One by one, the groups are lead out of the Everyman auditorium and told to put on headphones, which enable each person to hear what the guide is saying as they move around, as well as recorded voices and soundtracks that flesh out each story. It looks crazy. It is pretty crazy. And it turns the Georgian Quarter into something utterly mindboggling.
Our prop led us to Sally Pilkington (Lucy Hind), who took us down Hope Street, up Falkner Street to Catherine Street, and finally back to the suitcase sculptures outside LIPA in writer Esther Wilson’s Not Welcome. A sad tale of family ties, we unfortunately suffered some technological problems with our radio packs that cut out some parts of the story and made it hard to follow. It turned out we had extra interference as well because someone in the group had left on their mobile phone – a big no-no that we found out really can ruin the show for other people. Regardless of these pitfalls – which should get ironed out – it is still worth taking a chance on (particularly if the weather holds up).
The buzz from taking part in Anthology is something you don’t get every day. There is something so wonderfully disorienting about walking the streets you pass daily, seeing strange things appear, and wondering if the person coming towards you is involved or just a member of the public. The anticipation and excitement goes right to the pit of your stomach, and reminded me of that real spirit of adventure that ran through Capital of Culture year. A great idea bringing together some fantastic talent, Anthology is not without its imperfections, but must be admired for its sheer guts and imagination.
Pic by Sam Heath