Writer: Lindzi Germain, Angela Simms &Lynn Francis
Director: Cal McCrystal
Reviewer: Helen Patrick
As the final finishing touches take place on the new Royal Liverpool University Hospital and plans start to take place for the movement of staff and patients to the new building are underway, another of Liverpool’s famous Royals (Royal Court) premieres a comedy about the move and closure of The Royal – knowingly entitled The Royal… heck they even topped it all off by having press night on the same day the Royal Family visited the city.
Court regulars Lindzi Germain, Angela Simms and Lynn Francis not only star in but have also self-penned a timely and comic homage to the university hospital and certainly put a huge Scouse stamp on proceedings… never has a show at The Royal Court been quite so crude, lewd, yet outright hilarious.
Teresa McDonald (Germain), The Royal’s loyal tea lady and “her Charlie” are doing the rounds in the almost derelict hospital wards, with only ward 8X still in operation, nurse and Casualty fanatic Florence Davis (Simms) is looking after the last (or so they think) patient in the hospital – Mrs Llewellyn who is coming close to her final moments. Mo McGuire the po faced and harsh mortuary supervisor played by Lynn Francis decides to pay the ward a visit as its starting to get quiet and she is hoping Mrs Llewellyn will pop her clogs ASAP so she can reach her target and gain the staff member of the month award. Throw in a love story with Irish builder Paddy O’Shaugnessy and Flo and a surprised patient who has been forgotten about (Walter Bush played by Alan Stocks) and you get a rip-roaring comedy that never fails to find the belly laughs.
But this isn’t just a typical comedy caper – this is part Die Hard adventure too – fireballs, demolition balls, collapsing lift shafts and helicopter rescues all feature and make this a riotous two hours in a theatre. It is with credit to director Cal McCrystal who is one of the industry’s leading comedy directors that the action is fast and frantic and the clowning from the cast first rate, however the show takes a while to get started and the productions framing device feels a little misguided and out of place… yes the meta referencing is nodded at throughout and helps the performers find their “clown” but it doesn’t really add anything vital to the evening other than some superfluous padding.
The leading trio of ladies are great… Germain is her usually fierce and exuberant self, while Simms plays the role of Florence with charm and naivety but its Francis that steals the show with her tough edged portrayal of Mo McGuire. Strong support is given from Stocks and O’Brien with extra stiff support given from Hesteltine.
However, the show’s real star here is Mark Walters superb multi-levelled set that features many hidden surprises which is complemented superbly by Ian Scott’s atmospheric lighting design.
The Royal is a sure fire hit for the venue and is genuinely one of the most enjoyable and original productions the venue has given us in recent years.
Runs until 16 July, 2016 | Photo: Bond Media