DramaFeaturedNorth WestReview

I Am Steven Gerard – The Hope Street Theatre, Liverpool

Reviewer: Alicia Shanahan

Writer: Sean McLoughlin

Director: Amy Roberts

The ‘glory of Anfield Road’ was seen on stage for the opening night of I Am Steven Gerard at The Hope Street Theatre. I Am Steven Gerard’s stage origins began at Tip Tray Theatre’s ‘What Happens Next’ Competition back in 2023, having won the competition and the hearts of those who watched and voted for it. Sean McLoughlin’s 20-minute poetic entry in the competition had high expectations to meet as a full-length production, and those expectations were met tenfold.

The one-man show delves into the mind and soul of young Shane, played by Joe Cowin, as he tackles identity, acceptance and pride wrapped in the realm of toxic masculinity within Liverpool’s football community. Cowin’s performance as Shane is steeped in pain, humour, with an overarching theme of loss and navigating through adolescence. A deeply moving performance that is aptly met with a standing ovation. Cowin is a truly exceptional Liverpudlian talent who no doubt has a rich and expansive acting career ahead of him. An utterly breathtaking performance.

The set design by Maisy Gordon perfectly captures the atmosphere of staple working-class locations, the armchair in front of the telly and the fixtures of the pub. The comfort of the staging was backed by a looming presence of Liverpool’s hero, Steven Gerard, signifying the pinnacle of Liverpudlian masculinity while also taking reference from the LFC-themed street art within the streets surrounding Anfield Stadium.

The lighting designed by Kieran Sing brought us beyond the physical and into the emotional, taking the audience from a comedy club to the confessional booth. The attention to detail regarding Liverpool’s ties with stand- up comedy and Catholicism did not go unseen and brought an added layer of relatability to the performance and was executed with precision.

Director Amy Roberts creates a layered and nuanced performance which flows seamlessly from one scene to the next. Combined with Cowin’s talent, the characterisation and staging makes this one-man show fascinatingly funny, while in unison, utterly heartbreaking.

Sean McLoughlin’s I Am Steven Gerard is a poetic testament to the men of Liverpool, for football fans and to non-football fans. With beautiful moments of characterisation encapsulated in rhyme gives the performance warmth and familiarity, while moments of dread and uncertainty shines a light onto the unwarranted judgements that plague men, boys, and lads growing up in a football-dominated city.

The team behind I Am Steven Gerard have brought to life a poignant production that should be toured across the country. A vital example of creative flair that should be seen by everyone but more so the youth of our communities. I Am Steven Gerard has proved that the overwhelming Liverpool-based talent extends past the Shankly Gates and into the city’s theatres. This rich and hard-hitting production is full of laughs and tears alike. A must-see production.

Runs until 28th January 2024

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