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The Sum review at Everyman Theatre, Liverpool – ‘poignant, powerful and timely’

The cast of The Sum at Everyman Theatre, Liverpool. Photo: Stephen Vaughan The cast of The Sum at Everyman Theatre, Liverpool. Photo: Stephen Vaughan
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In Lizzie Nunnery’s new play The Sum, Eve is doing a balancing act between her office job at McClasker’s Home Stores and her complicated domestic life. She’s always been a sums person, but things have stopped adding up.

As Eve, Laura Dos Santos gives a breathlessly intense performance.  At work she has to deliver news of cuts to her colleagues. At home she tries to support a mother with dementia, a teenage daughter who’s being bullied at school and a partner who has just been fired.

Nunnery’s play with songs contains multiple layers of narrative. It illustrates the cumulative pressures that can build up in a community living under austerity. As post-Brexit uncertainty affects business, and jobs are on the line, people approach breaking point.

This fourth production in the Everyman’s Rep season places a small band into a centre stage pit; this is surrounded with the departments of the Home Stores on island platforms that also represent rooms in Eve’s house.

The music, by Nunnery and regular collaborator Vidar Norheim, punctuates the action, both poignantly and with humour. Emily Hughes as Eve’s daughter and Pauline Daniels as her mother deliver beautifully sung ballads and the big company numbers fill the stage with light and energy.

Eve’s spreadsheets might not add up, but Gemma Bodinetz’s direction is finely balanced direction and the writing is powerful and timely.

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Lizzie Nunnery’s multi-layered play amounts to far more than the sum of its parts