Who can forget Royal De Luxe's spectacular street piece 'Memories of 1914' which brought out the entire city on a sultry July morning? Arguably this was the city's cultural event of the year. And what a day it turned out to be - without doubt one of those 'I was there' moments.
Turning now to the more traditional theatre shows, I have taken the not inconsiderable trouble of taking you, gentle reader, on a whistle-stop tour of the cities' theatrical year. So get set for the good, the bad and yes, I'm afraid the ugly of 2014.
After a run of decidedly average shows such as Hope Place (Everyman), The Lion King (Empire), Juno and the Paycock (Playhouse) we had to wait until as late as November for our next stonkers. Northern Outlet's John and Mark took for its story an imagined meetiing between John Lennon and his assasin, Mark Chapman. For reasons which remain unknown, the cities' Lantern Theatre was virtually empty as a superb piece of drama unfolded inside Liverpool's coolest performance venue. Dammit, what's wrong with these people? They'll pack together like sardines to witness the grotesque 'Wicked' while happily snubbing a genuinely wonderful piece of theatre like this. Shame on you Liverpool.
November also brought my show of the year. It was a long time coming, but DV8's John was certainly worth the wait. Here was a show from whose pores simply oozed creativity. The real story (and words) of 'John' - a man whose life had revolved around abuse, violence and addiction, this was a harrowing yet ultimately compelling piece of theatre. DV8 conjured up a beguiling mix of physical theatre and storytelling in a show that left the audience stunned.
Honourable mentions too for The Lantern's United We Stand, Purplecoat's The Caretaker and My Mother Said I Never Should and The Everyman's Bright Phoenix. And finally Swan Lake at the Empire pressed all the right buttons.
So hang onto your hats. It is a far, far better thing I do...
Headlong Theatre rocked up at the Playhouse in May with their adaptation of Wedekind's expressionist classic 'Spring Awakening.' But what a damp squib. The cast of young perrformers did their level best, but were fighting a losing batttle. This was a classic example of style over substance, full of flashing floodlights and hip-hop, but little else. The kidz - director Ben Kidd and writer Anya Reiss - wanted so very, very badly to be kool, but just ended up ruining a perfectly good play. If ever there was a production full of sound and fury signifying nothing then this was it.
It was with some trepidation I turned up at the Royal Court for its xmas show Scouse of the Antarctic. I mean the clue was in the title. This show was packed full of the most awful puns known to mankind. And what can you say about a snowman that addresses its fellow cast members with the immortal phrase "Hey knobhead." I guess this is what happens when you get your pals to write and direct a show; very cosy indeed, but it does limit the gene pool somewhat. The result was depressingly familiar: a frenetic, crude scouse-centric mess.
And my final turkey has to be The Empire's ill-fated Saturday Night Fever. On paper this couldn't fail and that's where it really ought to have stayed - on paper. The problems started when it got on stage. No offence, but it played like a LIPA graduation piece, all jazz hands, but no finesse and certainly no polish. One could only sympathise with the performers as they sang and danced their little hearts out. But you can't, as they say, polish a turd can you? When they finally cancelled the show at the interval ('technical issues') it wasn't really that clear whether the audience were annoyed or simply relieved. One to forget.
AND NOT FORGETTING., THE UGLY...
And while on the subject of turkeys, an honourable mention for the Playhouse's Sex and the Three Day Week, which, if it wasn't for the hi-tech staging, you'd swear had been produced by the local church group.
Full review here >>>