Although it’s being staged to coincide with the city hosting Eurovision, the plot has very little to do with the actual song contest, focusing instead on the lives and loves of a gaggle of Eurovision groupies who manage to sneak backstage (or under the stage, to be precise) at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Area for the duration of the contest.
The show starts off with a bang as Lindzi Germain’s character, Lulu, delivers the eulogy at her mother’s funeral. But her mother, Steph, manages to escape her coffin, hell-bent on attending to some unfinished business.
Played by the talented Eithne Browne, Steph is a diehard Eurovision fan who has watched the contest on the small screen since its black-and-white inception. She even named her daughter Lulu after giving birth to the sound of “Boom Bang-a-Bang” in 1969.
Such is her determination to watch Eurovision live in person, especially now that it has come to her hometown, Steph is not inclined to let the small inconvenience of having died, stop her from attending.
I very much doubt Eithne Browne has ever “corpsed” on stage, but this time she began the play as a corpse and remained a corpse for the duration. And I must admit, she was dead good at it.
The comedy really takes off as the Euro Groupies hide backstage and Lulu is the only one who can see and hear her ghostly mother – until Beryl comes on the scene, that is. Emma Bispham plays Beryl, a singer from an obscure new European country called Balkania, and it turns out that she too can engage with Steph, adding new twists, turns and intrigue to the plot.
The entire spiritual proceedings are presided over by the Archangel, played by Keddy Sutton, who also miraculously morphs into the singer Sonia from time to time.
Written by Merseyside writer Jonathan Harvey, “A Thong for Europe” is on par with the best of the Royal Court’s musical comedies. The music is uplifting and features almost every popular Eurovision song from the past few decades, and the humour is side-splitting.
One of the most memorable scenes is when the camp Terry, played by Andro Cowperthwaite, “comes out” as being straight, leading to shock, disbelief, and eventual acceptance from his loved ones, cleverly exploring the reverse situation of a time before LGB was normalized.
It runs at Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre until the 27th of May. Don’t miss out on the chance to laugh your way through this hilarious Eurovision-inspired comedy.