Council Depot Blues – Royal Court, Liverpool

Writer: Dave Kirby 

Director: Bob Eaton

Reviewer: Matt Forrest

We’ve all been there, stuck in a job you hate that stifles your hopes and aspirations, whilst believing that what one day you’ll escape and go on to live your dream, whatever that may be. It doesn’t matter how you get there but get there you must.

Writer Dave Kirby has drawn on his experience of working for the council, the ‘Corpy’, to craft a comedy/musical filled with toe-tapping tunes, razor-sharp one-liners, topped off with enough poignancy to fill a council skip!

It’s Stan’s (Phil Hearne) last day as he’s about to retire. He is on countdown and seemingly cannot wait for his final clocking off time. Down at the depot, we meet Stan’s colleagues who include company man Harry (Paul Broughton), well-to-do but troubled Norman (Howard Gray), local ‘scally’ Shorty (James Nelson-Joyce) and bandmates Fitzy (Jake Abraham), Jo Jo (Roy Brandon) and Danny (Andrew Schofield). As its Stan’s last day they are determined to do what they normally do: have some beers, play a few tunes and do as little work as possible, however, whilst clearing out the house of a retired music teacher, the lads make a discovery that could change their lives forever.

This is a fun-filled night out, packed full of ‘bawdy’ humour and pathos. The performances by the ensemble cast are all fine – especially from Royal Court debutant Nelson-Joyce who very nearly steals the show as bone-idle Shorty, and Gray who is fantastic as the posh world-beaten alcoholic Norman. All the male characters are fleshed out a with great deal of humour and spirit mixed with a hefty dose of cynicism and desperation. The only female character, Vera is well played by Lindzi Germain with great comic timing, however, the role is somewhat one-dimensional.

The musical numbers which interspersed the show are a real treat: the singing can be slightly off at points but the musicianship and craft shown by the cast, especially Schofield on guitar, Gray on piano and Hearne and Brandon on harmonica are outstanding, and will certainly have you tapping your feet along to the beat.

The play could do with a few edits here and there and maybe 15 minutes trimmed off the running time, but this is a minor quibble. Council Depot Blues is a good fun night out: it’s a musical tradgi-farce, packed full of comedy, heartbreak and great music. It’s a guarantee you’ll be singing the blues come the end of the show!

Runs until 24th March 2018 | Image: Contributed

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