Theatre Very long term readers (both of you) will remember all the bad reviews I used to post. But when I started writing them myself, it sort of became a bit redundant. But every now and then I like to offer something I've picked up, and this joy from the local paper tonight is too good not to break copywrite law for:
"WHEN there are more empty seats in the theatre after the interval than there were before, you know something is going horribly wrong. When a steady stream of people get up to leave during the second half and those left begin to heckle you really have a problem. One woman sitting two rows in front of me at last night's 99 Heyworth Street noisily got up to leave with over an hour left to go, pointedly telling her husband to hurry up. Another woman complaining to staff in the foyer afterwards said the evening had been. "The most painful three hours of my life."

To be honest, I have to agree. John and Tony Bryan's musical, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, centres on twins Elizabeth and Sheila and their unruly Irish family growing up in post-war Liverpool. Sheila, played by Maureen Ann Bryan, is the homely one while Liz (Paula Bell) struggles to break out of the family' pickling business and move up in the world. For no particular reason, John Bryan reveals the key plot turn (Sheila's death from TB) in the opening five minutes. Each member of the family is introduced to us at Sheila's funeral by the priest telling an altar boy how she died, then three hours of tedium ensue. Sheila meets Lawrie in the Grafton and they fall in love - but not so deeply she feels able to share her illness with him.. Hardly surprising, as played by Steve Swindelli, the man was more wooden than the stage he was Oil.

He barely managed a facial reaction to the news of Sheila's death. But while Swindelli can hit a note, he was incapable of expressing any voca! emotion in his big (but bizarre) love song with Sheila called A Big Ship on The Mersey (no, I'm not kidding). Many long scenes, some blatantly written just to fit in another song, have no dramatic purpose. .The main problem, however, was the technical production. The microphones ranged from not working at all, to making a swishing noise every time somebody moved, to deafening you with loud squeaks. It spoilt all the big songs and left the audience struggling to hear or with their fingers in their ears. One heckler shouted: "We can't hear you", raising uncomfortable laughter during Sheila's supposedly tear-jerking death scene. And, despite very limited prop and backdrop demands, each scene change lasted an agonisingly long time. Refunds were being demanded."
Oh the humanity ...

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