DramaNorth WestReview

Haunted Scouse – The Royal Court, Liverpool

Reviewer: John McRoberts

Writer: Gerry Linford

Director: Emma Bird

Gerry Linford once again returns to The Royal Court with his latest production of Haunted Scouse – bringing with him, his usual trademarked style of more warmth and heart than perhaps other comedies at the Roe Street venue. Despite that, Haunted Scouse doesn’t quite have the emotional pull of Yellow Breck Road, or indeed the mystery and laughs that were provided by the Menlove Avenue Murder Mystery. Instead, we have a production that straddles the two and doesn’t quite connect in the way one would have hoped.

It needs to be said from the off, that this is a genuinely enjoyable production, there is strong and assured direction from Emma Bird, who handles the material well and helps bring out as much laughter from the script as possible and the five actors (Michael Starke, Lynn Francis, Paul Duckworth, Helen Carter and Julie Glover) ensure that the characters are strong and likeable, even when the writing doesn’t really give us anything to hook into emotionally.

Molly Moon (Clarke) has for the past year been mourning the loss of her beloved husband Charlie (Starke), who is struggling to leave the earthly realm and requires the help of his late Aunt Peggy, a young and perfectly pitched cabaret singer (Carter). Things start to get messy when a potential relationship between Molly and her ignoramus next-door neighbour Gordan (Duckworth) is on the cards when a surprise revelation needs the unforeseen help of new-aged friend Linda (Glover) to help put everything right for everyone in all realms to peacefully move on!

There is a clear influence with Haunted Scouse from the hit Hollywood movie Ghost – which means the story occasionally falls into the “we know what’s going to happen next” territory, and that leaves very little room for any surprises or twists – but with excellent production values, the world of the Moon’s is vividly brought to life. Ellie Light’s static one-piece multi-level set allows Ian Scott’s lighting to be cheeky and playful and even hides a few surprise elements.

As previously mentioned, the cast are great and as expected from the husband-and-wife team of Clarke and Starke – the chemistry between the two is fantastic, they know how to be playful with each other without taking things too far. Likewise, Carter as the glamorous aunt, is delightful with plenty of sharp one-liners and some cracking opportunities to showcase her vocal talents. Glover brings a very different energy to the stage with her hilariously off-kilter portrayal of Linda, but it is the power-house performance of Paul Duckworth which steals the show, his energetic portrayal of Gordan is almost Machiavellian in size but equally as menacing.

At 2hours including the interval, Haunted Scouse doesn’t outstay its welcome – things move along at a pace. It’s a light-hearted romp, with plenty of laughs, however, one just wanted a bit more emotional depth in the story and fewer fart gags.

Runs until 09 March 2024

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The North West team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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