The clever use of contrasting film footage playing in the background marks an exciting new genre for theatregoers to enjoy. Two dramatic sensations are absorbed simultaneously, such as a BNP speech being delivered with the Last Night of the Proms taking place in the background, offering a suitably off-kilter moment. Whilst audiences can look forward to theatre companies such as Paines Plough taking them to brand new destinations in the future, the heart of this play is firmly in the ‘pool. The top flight cast of Kevin Harvey and Michael Ryan embody the spirit of Liverpool but even this unity ends with a split. As the terraces of Anfield are projected onto the screen, an Everton fan walks in.
To make the play’s ever-present sense of ‘Broken Britain’ feel real, James Grieve’s direction employs many complex layers that build a compelling narrative. A deeply effective scene uses three microphone stands, each representing a character, as the two actors switch around as necessary to play out a harrowing family saga. Laurence Wilson successfully tackles dark and difficult subjects, such as euthanasia, by being bold and honest in the gutsy dialogue he has written. The script switches effortlessly between diverse styles of delivery such as stand up comedy and a quiz game. Equally, the number of visual story-telling devices used holds the audience’s attention like a vice. At one point, Jeremy Vine is filmed with the iconic Radio City tower behind his head, captured by Tim Brunsden’s video techniques. As Vine reports on binge drinking he finds the tourists are to blame.
The show provides many answers as to who has broken Britain because of the strong characters caught in the spotlight of Xenia Bayer’s pacy lighting design. The talented cast are left arguing over what it is to be a "proper Scouse lad". However, there is no arguing that the questions this play fearlessly asks should make Liverpool proud. In the spirit of the cultural heritage of the city, a moving poem about the agony of parenthood is chosen to bind each segment together, proving there is pride in the ‘pool after all!