Writers: Tony Furlong and Jimmy Power
Directors: Philip Olivier and Jake Abrahams
Reviewer: Jamie Gaskin
The Ale House isnot so much a show about a local as a show for the locals.It is an unashamed celebration of the brash humour exaggerating a world that no longer exists and would struggle to win audiences outside Merseyside.But then are Philip Olivier and Jake Abraham, who embellished this 1995 script, before re-offering it to the people of Liverpool seeking anything else?
Most of the jokes are a lot older than bar-help, Old Joe (Nick Birkinshaw). The kind of 60-year-old sot who should be kept well away from the optics. There is little pretence at a plot and the show is more a marathon sketch than a well-rounded play.In particular the characters were far more cliched than in Furlong and Power’s earlier work Night Collar.
Many of the nine-strong cast are familiar faces. We have Lindzi Germain of Sex and The Suburbs as Lucy, the blonde bombshell barmaid, whose casual approach to health and cleanliness would give most catering inspectors nightmares.Philip Olivier (Brookside and Benidorm) is Yogi, a young Walter Mitty who seems to believe his own wild exaggerations, but is caught out when one of his conquests turns up in real life.Adding a sense of bad-taste mischief is Jake Abraham (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels). He plays Trevor a war veteran with an explosive tick that goes off at the most unsuitable moments. Grange Hill graduate George Wilson is the handsome but thick bully called Kick-Off, who finally gets his come-uppance.
Heaping the final indignity on Kick-Off is the show’s most delightful character ‘Arl Mary. A wheel-chair bound crinkly, wonderfully played by Brookside’s Bernie Foley, still sex-mad and in full command of her faculties.Champion of the obligatory plethora of lavatory jokes is Michael McMartin’s Robbo, a man with a permanent hangover, who can’t afford to move too far from the loo.Les Doherty is Father Flaherty, an Irish Priest who is great at jigs but has a very unchristian attitude to people who use his precious prize garden as a loo.Kivan Dene thoroughly enjoys showing off his range with three different characters including the spivvy wide boy selling dodgy goods and the Raver who wants to be everyone’s good time.
Certainly it’s a big hit with the audience who clearly see it not so much as a night at the theatre as party night at their favourite pub.The infectious cheering and whooping that greets the song and dance numbers make it hard to work out where the stage ends and the audience begins. Choreographer Zak Yates creates some neat moves that look good and can be partly copied at times by the audience.
The Ale Housemay not be the theatrical masterpiece it hopes to be but provides the audience with an ale and hearty night out
Runs until 19th March, 2016. | Photo: Contributed