Writer: Dave Kirby and Nicky Allt
Director: Bob Eaton
Reviewer: John Roberts
Just over 10 years ago, Dave Kirby and Nicky Allt gained themselves a massive hit with the original Brick Up production. In the past decade, it has received no less than six revivals – the most recent being last year during its tenth anniversary. This is now the official sequel (perhaps we shouldn’t mention the disastrous flop that was originally staged at the Liverpool Empire), it follows the exploits of Ann Twacky, a Wirral Conservative, who plots to close the Mersey Tunnel and finally make the people of CH truly independent from Merseyside forever.
Brick Up 2 is certainly pulling in the punters but it severely hampers itself with a lazy script full of overt sexual moments and xenophobic jokes – which in the current political climate certainly don’t deserve such airings especially in a city where we are usually proud to not stoop to such lows. Do we really need jokes about Polish workers willing to work for 50p and why is it necessary that one of the central characters dress up as a Muslim terrorist to hide from the police? Surely there would have been a better and perhaps even funnier fix to find.
Running at, a rather self-indulgent, two and a half hours Brick Up 2 – really doesn’t get going until the second act, the first being full of weak exposition and even weaker songs, which lack any musical credibility – in fact the whole production feels like one overstretched improvisation in which characters are not really developed or fleshed out. That’s not to say the actors don’t give it their all strong performances from Francis Tucker as the naughty Liz Card and Eithne Browne as Ann Twacky really shine and Andrew Schofield proves his weight in gold. Suzanne Collins is hampered with a rather bland Liverpudlian in hiding character Maggie and Roy Brandon goes through some bizarre character developments which don’t make any real sense to the storyline (what little there actually is) and the role of Elliot Neston played by Court debutant Danny Burns is so woefully underwritten it serves no real purpose.
Billy Meall’s set design is strong and its use of moving truck pieces allow the action to move from place to place with speed and fluidity. Bob Eaton managed to save this past Christmas show with some enjoyable and clever direction at The Court, but here he fails to live up to his own standard and the production feels weak and lacklustre in contrast.
Underneath there is promise here of an explosive show but in its current condition when you place Brick Up 2 next to recent hits at The Royal Court over the past year (The Royal, Father O’Flaherty and Golden Oldies) it’s not hard or difficult to see that this doesn’t come close and one doubts it will be celebrated in the same way as its big brother in ten years time.
Runs until 25 February 2017 | Image: Zanto Digital