St Helens Theatre Royal – until Saturday 1 October 2022
Reviewed by Jennifer Daley
As relevant today as it was in 1930’s England, Rob Fennahs’s adaptation of Helen Forrester’s best selling novel really packs a punch in portraying the impacts of social deprivation in 1930’s Liverpool.
With a cast of only 9 actors playing 48 character this really is a fast moving and cleverly directed piece. The viewer could clearly follow the plot thanks to the characters switch between portrayal and narration of their own role, often delivered with a very well received does of scouse humour to lighten the tone.
Whilst the physical appearance of Jenny Murphy’s Helen deteriorated before out eyes, powerfully we saw a young woman emerge, fighting against injustice of the political system and her neglectful upbringing in a way in which empowered her to better herself and succeed in her quest for her right to an education. With a voice packed full of emotion, her performance was truly captivating, and I found myself drawn to her every word and action.
Real, raw and authentic in its representation, at times I felt transported into real life Great Depression of Liverpool City Centre. The colloquialisms and Scouse dialect were well researched and delivered perfectly – and being a Scouser myself, impressing me is not an easy task!
A really excellent and thought-provoking watch, laced with factual socio-economic challenges, inequality and child slavery within the family. We’re all only one wrong turn from a very different life and for some, referenced poignantly, the struggle is just too much. A must see and I’m already looking forward to the sequel.