Writer: Fred Lawless
Director: Howard Gray
Reviewer: John Roberts
Following on from last year’s Christmas production Scouse of the Antarctic, Pharaoh Cross The Mersey sees love-bird protagonists Boris the Russian Sailor (Michael Fletcher) and Liverpool University student Daisy (Hayley Hampson) become engaged and now holidaying in the sunny climes of Egypt. However, a token of their love holds a key to the past and finds the pair flung into the past where their lives and crown jewels are in serious danger.
Fred Lawless and director Howard Gray have come up with another stonking Christmas production and one would argue the strongest seasonal offering at the venue in recent years. The story may be silly and full of more holes than the Manchester road network, but the cast delivers the material with buckets of energy and never fails to keep the laughter flowing. From the grimacing and mincing of the ever-reliable Michael Starke – a hoot as King Tut – to Andrew Schofield’s slave Bill, this cast is firing on all cylinders.
Lindzi Germain powers her way through the show as a sex-crazed and slightly psychotic Queen Nefertiti, and Danny O’Brien plays simpleton slave Ben with real conviction, never has a scene with a sausage been so funny. There really isn’t a weak member in the cast and the lovers, played with plenty of joyous chemistry by Fletcher and Hampson, add a touch a youthful vitality and charm to the production.
Played out on Richard Foxton’s multi-leveled set full of hieroglyphics and Egyptian paraphernalia,Pharaoh Cross The Mersey ticks almost all the right boxes; however, the sound balance could do with a fine-tune. The band, albeit played with aplomb under the careful eye of Alex Smith at times overpowers the cast especially during some of the bigger numbers, meaning lyrics thatare usually very witty, are left unheard. Likewise Nicola Bolton’s choreography leaves little to be desired.
But with some great performances, especially Starke and Schofield as the two camel riding lost Kings, the show leaves you feeling full of frivolity. As with most shows at the Royal Court,Pharaoh Cross The Mersey is full of broad scouse humour and a fair sprinkling of risqué and close to the cuff jokes – take your gran by all means, but make sure she’s the smoking, drinking type as this will be just her cup of tea!
Another great offering from this unique theatre and one the sets the bar even higher for next year’s show… Lawless and Grey had better get their thinking caps on now.
Runs until 16 January 2016 | Photo: Bond Media