So successful was Dave Kirby and Nick Allt’s 2016 comedy, “Brick Up The Mersey Tunnels“, it enjoyed no fewer than six sell-out runs and became the theatre’s signature play. introducing thousands to the very special brand of scouse humour for which the Royal Court is known and loved.
Quite apart from the fact it had a brilliant script, that success was due in no small part to it being something of a local derby, attracting fans from both sides of the Mersey. It seems the posh Wirralites loved the play just as much as the down-to-earth Scousers on the Liverpool side, even though that first round was won by those scallies across the water.
It became the perfect scouse comedy. But whoever said you can’t improve on perfection didn’t reckon on Allt and Kirby coming up with Brick Up 2 – The Wrath Of Ann Twacky. And maybe this time the tables have been turned!
It tells of the joy and the despair resulting from these acts of “terrorism”; of the joy and despair that followed the tunnels reopening; and of the joy and despair in the plot to do it all over again.
Sticking to the tried and tested formula, the producers chose the same director and pretty much the same cast as for Brick Up 2’s 2017 debut.
The excruciatingly posh Eithne Browne returns as Ann Twacky (she’s actually nothing like that in real life), partnered by Roy Brandon as her formerly down-trodden husband Dennis, who appears to have kicked over the traces and grown a pair.
Andrew Schofield is back as the archetype scally and cowboy builder Dicky Lewis. He’s the sort of actor whose facial expressions and perfect timing as he delivers his lines would have you in fits of laughter even if he was reciting from the phone book. And when he dons a frock to become Dee Estuary, a member of the Wirral Ladies Group, you can see what a master of comedy this man is.
The third Wirral Ladies character, Liz Card, was played to absolute perfection by Francis Tucker whose wonderful facial and vocalised, innuendo often results in his being cast as the Pantomime Dame, notwithstanding his wide-ranging appearances on stage, film and television.
The lovely Suzanne Collins showed us that her character Maggie was something of a turn-coat by becoming an imperfectly posh Margaret who had difficulty keeping up both the pretence and the accent, hilariously slipping back into “The Queen’s Scouse” when caught off guard. Quite apart from being exceedingly easy on the eye, Suzanne’s superb singing and dancing skills were much in evidence throughout.
Dicky Lewis’s Queensway Three cohorts in the tunnel campaign, were Gerard Gardner and Nick Walton. Gerard is played by seasoned Royal Court comedy actor Paul Duckworth with the face that launched a thousand laughs, and the part of Nick Walton is played by Jake Abraham, who also steps up with his guitar throughout the performance to narrate the story via the medium of song.
All credit to Director Bob Eaton for his visualisation of a great script, and Musical Director Howard Gray for bringing the show musically to life via the talented musicians in the pit and on the stage.
It had crossed my mind that to understand this play, one would have had to have seen the original Brick Up, but thanks to the way “the story so far” has been cleverly woven into Jake’s mellifluous narration, Brick Up virgins can enjoy this fab comedy just as much as the Brick Up groupies who’ve spent the past decade or so coming back for more.
To sum up, this is a highly enjoyable and entertaining comedy, regardless of which side of the Mersey you reside. It is filled with hilarious one-liners that are even better than the ones we hear on a daily basis from the farce being played out in The House of Commons!
This one absolutely gets Five Stars from me. Don’t think twice – go and see it!