Liverpool Theatre Festival 2023 is dedicated to the late Liverpool writer Mark Davies Markham, writer of Taboo, Eric’s and Special Measures. In memory of Mark, who passed away this year, the festival is bringing back his hilarious one-woman show, 2Gorgeous4U, performed by Lynne Fitzgerald and directed by James Baker, on Monday 24 July, at 7:30pm, for one performance only.
Lynne plays Clare: a beautician with her own Spa and Treatment Room in Waterloo. She is happily single, but is online, just in case. Her one desire in life is to have a wet room.
Back in the Britpop 90’s she was one half of pop duo 2Gorgeous4U with her best mate Tina. They were wild, but fell out acrimoniously in the 90’s. What happens when they’re asked to reform for a music festival in their hometown of Liverpool? Can they put the past behind them and move on? What was it that they held on to for so long?
The show takes place at St. Luke’s ‘Bombed Out’ Church on Monday and it begins at 7:30. All proceeds are going to Anthony Nolan Blood Cancer Research so with such a worthy cause benefitting, one woman playing 12 characters, some fabulous music and all with a beautiful message for us all.
“It’s been a very short process getting it all together,” Lynne laughed. “We began rehearsals yesterday [Thursday], I’m directing today, I’m rehearsing again at the weekend and we open on Monday. It’s all been a bit hectic to say the least.”
“To be fair though, I’m on my own in the show. But, with them being his words, I want to give it absolutely everything I’ve got. In fact it wasn’t until yesterday, rehearsing with James, just how poignant a message is in it.”
The show began in difficult circumstances. “It was first staged, and was my first job, coming out of Covid in 2021, which was really a chance thing in itself,” Lynne explained. “I had been pencilled in to do Two with Louis Emerick, but Louis couldn’t do it. Then another show fell through and 2Gorgeous was put on instead. Bill Elms [Producer] phoned me and asked me to come and read for it. Sometimes something just works, and this worked for me. When Bill told me Mark would absolutely love it if I could play Clare, I was thrilled.”
Mark Davies Markham died from cancer on Monday, January 16, after falling ill the previous October. Originally from Bootle and living between Liverpool and Surrey, Mark was best known for writing the script to Boy George’s musical Taboo and the BBC’s Liverpool Nativity. He also wrote a semi-autobiographical masterpiece, Eric’s, which starred Stephen Fletcher at The Liverpool Everyman back in 2008.
“Mark was lovely. He was a voice we needed in this city and his passing came as such a shock to everybody. He was quite strict and was straight down the line as far as the written work was concerned, but I got that. Writers have a certain rhythm and, like with music, if the rhythm is lost so is the point the of the words being delivered by the actors. For that, for the opportunity to play Clare, for being a man writing for a woman with such skill and understanding and for being such a hugely talented writer in general, you can’t help but respect and admire him, his memory and all he achieved as a playwright.”
“We had a great time first go around. He was very nervous coming out of lockdown; he’d had a few health problems of his own to contend with. We were a tight group, we worked hard, we worked well and we pulled it off in what were, safe to say, quite odd circumstances.”
“Then to have it staged again, eighteen months later, at The Royal Court in Liverpool – with our faces on that massive screen advertising it outside – well, that felt as though the whole thing had come full circle. I know Mark was incredibly proud of the play and of that achievement. It was a moment for both of us. 2Gorgeous4U was very much his baby, and I can’t wait to get up there and do it all again on Monday. Even rehearsing, I can still see and hear him laughing.”
“I’ve also been blessed to be working alongside the magical James Baker as Director again. My word, talk about out-of-the-box thinking … you just cannot imagine. It has been amazing working alongside him on this for the third time, watching his thoughts come to life. It’s going to be great … exactly what Mark would’ve wanted.”
On the subject of actors having to keep a rhythm going, St. Luke’s offers its own ambience … and a somewhat exceptional set of challenges. “There aren’t too many theatre spaces where you might look up and see the Number 79 going past,” Lynne laughed again. “It’s a bit of a shock at first, and you have to create your own little bubble – especially in a single-hander like this. Coming from a rehearsal space, then having audience members wandering in with a drink in hand, having a chat, maybe, as they find their seats, and the traffic carrying on down Leece Street outside … it’d be all too easy to slip.”
“With all that said though, it’s a fantastic experience what with the lights literally shining down from the God’s, and with the sense of closeness the space gives you as an actor. It’s an incredible Festival in which to perform and, aside from my show on Monday, there’s a fabulous line up taking part. The Liverpool Theatre Festival at St. Luke’s is unique, I would say, and it needs to be supported so that it can thrive and grow.”
Lynne never seems to stop. Last Friday, she was in the midst of a short, sell-out run of her self-penned, acted and directed Desperate Scousewives at The Brindley in Runcorn. She is in the process of writing her tenth play, and will soon begin rehearsals for a tour of Rob Fennah’s adaptation of By The Waters of Liverpool, based on the best selling Helen Forester novel of the same name. The play will be staged, as a result of the enforced closure of The Epstein, at the M&S Bank Arena in their auditorium, a first for Lynne.
“I’m looking forward to ticking that space off the list while, at the same time, feeling incredibly sad for the fact The Epstein has gone. Not only for the fact the theatre has gone, but because the wonderful staff it employed have also had to go, too,” Lynne said.
“The Neptune, as it was then, was the first stage I ever performed on aged twelve. My graffiti is still there on the wall, where I scratched it in. There was always a tremendous atmosphere that kind of bled into performances, especially into period pieces like By The Waters of Liverpool, Down Our Street and Twopence To Cross The Mersey.”
“For the staff to have worked so hard, so single-mindedly, during and after Covid so as to not only pull it round, but to make a success of it in the way they did – many of their shows were near sell outs, by the way – only for them to have the rug pulled out from under them by the council, in the manner they did … it’s disgraceful, quite honestly.”
“It’s lovely we have these big places like the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, of course it is, and I’m very much looking forward to performing there, of course I am. That said, there’s also a place for more intimate, more accessible settings like The Epstein, like The Brindley, like The Floral Pavilion in New Brighton, like The Gladstone in Port Sunlight.”
“Touring in Twopence last year was the absolute highlight of my career so far. Being in a different, very often more old school theatre, night-after-night, sharing digs and having a laugh, while still delivering a top-quality show … what’s not to love?”
“The problem is that more and more of those self-same theatres are struggling to survive post-Covid, and The Epstein is indicative of those struggles, sadly, and I have to say unfairly. I just feel so bad for Bill and Anthony [Proctor-Williams, Stage Manager at The Epstein] after all they’ve put into it to make it the success it became.”
For someone so busy, who loves performing and is so passionate about what she does, Lynne Fitzgerald, despite the popularity she enjoys as one of Liverpool’s most prolific and well-loved actors, is one who loves time alone.
“I do love my own company. When I’m not working on stage or when I’m not writing, I love to get out and walk. I love spending time with my son, who loves walking as well. I’m a very solitary kind of person, actually. I love time to think and, sometimes, come up with ideas to write about, so work isn’t really ever that far away.”
“I love to people watch and, by doing that, I think I’ve come to understand myself a bit more as I’ve grown older. I’m not one who really needs the spotlight all of the time and I think a lot of people who act, or who are creative, are like that. It’s my job, at the end of the day.”
“That said, of course, I totally understand when members of the audience want to speak about the show with you afterwards. For some people, what they’ve seen you in might well have been the only show they have seen all year, so I very much appreciate what it is they have to say, and the time they have taken to sit and watch a show I’m in or have written. It’s amazing when they’re so absolutely thrilled to talk about it afterwards. That recognition is a great part of the job I do.”
So, what can an audience expect for 2Gorgeous4U? “A great night at a great venue and the chance to support a brilliant festival, which will always need support because if this goes what’s left?”
“They’ll also have a great night watching a show filled with laughter and music, including a little bit of Queen, which also has a terrific message written by a man who had theatre in his soul. Oh, and of course, they’ll have the chance to raise money for a fantastic cause in the Anthony Nolan charity. It’s Mark’s last words and I know he would love you to hear them.”