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Hope Place

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The plush new Everyman may have flung open its doors with Shakespeare, but historically its essence was always to be found in bold new writing – and the inaugural season certainly reverts to type with this specially commissioned piece by Michael Wynne, in which the past haunts the present.

Set in a family home on the eponymous street, just a stone’s throw from the theatre, Wynne is bold enough to swing backwards and forwards in time like a latter-day JB Priestley, from the here and now to an age when Liverpool was a fishing village surrounded by misty bogs.

Ambitious in scale, celebratory in tone and often extremely funny, on one level Wynne taps into the vogue for researching family trees. But its main dramatic ebb and flow involves a clever mingling of the myths and legends of the immediate neighbourhood – including various incarnations of the Everyman site – with those of the grown-up siblings of a local family, who gather in the kitchen following the death of their mother. Here, they trade memories about their poverty-stricken childhood, only to discover that their cherished tales are more myth than reality.

Rachel Kavanaugh’s well-paced and superbly acted production keeps an even balance between comedy elements, nostalgic localism and bringing out family skeletons that still rattle in the disturbed mind of the oldest sister Maggie Eileen O’Brien in top form, while Peter McKintosh’s multi-level set bathed in a projected map of the area gives geographical roots to a place with a past where there’s hope for the future – rather like the plush new Everyman.

Roger Foss

  • Everyman Theatre, Liverpool
  • May 14-31
  • Author: Michael Wynne
  • Director: Rachel Kavanaugh
  • Producer: Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse
  • Cast includes: Neil Caple, Ciaran Kellgren, Tricia Kelly, Joe McGann, Eileen O’Brien
  • Running time: 2hrs 15mins

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The Stage
The Stage is a British weekly newspaper and website covering the entertainment industry, and particularly theatre. It was founded in 1880. It contains news, reviews, opinion, features, and recruitment advertising.