Theatre – good theatre; theatre that is well written, directed and, ultimately, performed – has the inexorable ability to touch its audience deep within and so expose feelings and emotions that might otherwise lay dormant. It can also surprise. It can also be made all the more powerful when staged for a good cause, as it was this evening, with all proceeds going to The Anthony Nolan Trust.
On the face of it, the late Liverpool playwright Mark Davies Markham had created a one-woman popcorn piece surrounding 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 the play is ostensibly about is what happens when they’re asked to reform for a music festival in their hometown of Liverpool.
So far, so much candy floss and yet, we should know better. The writer of the Boy George play Taboo and the semi-autobiographical masterpiece – and ultimately self-effacing – Eric’s, does not do candy floss. Neither does Lynne Fitzgerald, it seems.
For the hour she is on stage, Fitzgerald delivers with neigh-on perfection Davies Markham’s words as though her career – and the lives of the characters, all twelve of them it turns out – depend on her delivering the performance of her life.
And she does not disappoint, nor flinch nor falter. Each character into who’s persona she so deftly slips – but especially those of Clare, her nosey and interfering mother, the rambunctious pensioner, Elsie, and Mikey the ‘gorgeous’ plumber – is a nuanced, three-dimensional creation Director James Baker can be seen to have developed as individually as though they were his own relatives.
Armed merely with a basket full of clothes, a mobile phone, a pale blue chair and an umbrella, Fitzgerald treated those gathered in the mid-summer evening to more than a mere show, but rather a reckoning of conscience and a pointer to that which is real: time is short, so don’t sweat the small stuff.
By the end the actor, audience – among whom were Mark’s family – and crew were feeling dampness upon their cheeks which had nothing to do with the quiet threat of rain, and everything to do with emotional whirly-gig upon which Lynne Fitzgerald, Mark Davies Markham and James Baker had so deliberately led us all.
Yes, theatre has the inexorable ability to touch its audience deep within and so expose feelings and emotions that might otherwise lay dormant. Mark Davies Markham knew this and so delivered that which was expected. That he is no longer around to do more of the same, is a sadness beyond words.
St. Luke’s Church, Liverpool.
Liverpool Theatre Festival, 2023.
Cast: Lynne Fitzgerald.
Director: James Baker.
Running Time: 60 minutes.
For More Information Concerning The Anthony Nolan Trust – and Details Of How To Donate, please Click HERE.