REVIEW: The Royal at The Liverpool Royal Court Theatre until Sept 23

The Royal
The Liverpool Royal Court Theatre
August 21 – September 23
Writers: Lindzi Germain, Lynn Francis, Angela Simms
Director: Cal McCrystal
Set Design: Mark Walters
Cast: Lindzi Germain, Lynn Francis, Angela Simms, Alan Stocks, Danny O’Brien, Phil Heseltine, Lucy Meacock
Running Time:   2 hrs 20 mins

The Royal is back at The Royal Court Theatre and it’s long anticipated return is more than justified. Fast, manic, hilariously funny and – beneath it all – deeply heartfelt, this is podium obtaining stuff.

The Royal Liverpool Hospital is being demolished and the three girls are waiting for Mrs. Llewellyn to die before they can move off Ward 8X. The chaos that ensues is non-stop, but don’t for a second think that this is just lunacy without control. Okay, it is a little bit overly crude in places and perhaps could do with a little bit of trimming here and there, but it is clear that a great deal of thought has gone into creating a comedy that also contains more than a few pauses for thought.

With so much going on it is in the quieter moments that the quality of the writing truly shines, with Cal McCrystal’s exquisite direction squeezing every ounce of emotion from these as he manages to do with the many manic sequences.  This has been undoubtedly helped along by the few tweaks and pulls the script in the 18 months or so since it was last staged, but overall it is has the feel of a more complete – more rounded – comedy than on offer before.

Which isn’t too bad for a show seen by many as being their favourite of 2016 and with tickets once more selling fast! It also helps to work with one of the most jaw droppingly beautiful sets to have been designed for any show that.

Angela Simms as nice but dim ‘nurse’ Florence (see what they did there?), Lindzi Germain as ‘mother’ of the group Teresa and Lynn Francis as Mo from the Morgue are clearly revelling in putting on what they have each created.  Alan Stocks and his classic comic timing and delivery as Walter Bush  has some fantastic lines that will have you, ahem, in stitches. Very often it isn’t what you say but the way you say it and Alan Stocks says it brilliantly from start to finish.

Danny O’Brien’s Paddy is adorably understated, whereas – and without having a single line or word to say – Phil Heseltine’s Mrs Llewellyn deserves special mention. In fact, rather like the drunk in Alan Bleasdale’s Stags & Hens, it can be no easy task to just lie there for 90 + minutes, at the mercy of those pushing, pulling, dragging and prodding you about all evening without once cracking up.

And there should also be a special mention for Granada TV’s Lucy Meacock who shows just what a great sport she is in getting involved in some filmed sequences, that will not only have you laughing out loud but also playing ‘spot the actor’ in the background.

An uproarious stitch buster, The Royal is back at The Royal Court. Go get your tickets quick, before the wrecking ball of fate wipes them all out.