If you like your musicals to have a great story line, emotion, poignancy and humour, then Down Our Street will be just up your street – so to speak!
The “street” in question could have been any or all of the streets in Birkenhead and the characters represent the thousands who worked at or were connected to the town’s world-famous shipyard. The story tells of the rise and fall of Cammell Laird from the hectic war years and the boom times that followed, through the decline of the ship-building industry during and reflects upon the effect this had on the ordinary people whose work there had shaped their entire lives right up to the present day.
The Thatcher effect
And what a co-incidence that I should be writing this review today, as the funeral takes place of one of the people who during the seventies contributed to Shipping being stripped of its special status to become just another industry. A senior civil servant is quoted as having told Sir Robert Atkinson, the then chairman of British Shipbuilders, “Margaret wants rid of shipbuilding. Remember that…”
It had crossed my mind that this play would only appeal to Merseysiders. And certainly, watching the occasional tear being wiped in the audience last night, many had indeed been very closely involved. However, the same story could easily relate to almost any area of the country and any of the industries that had gone through similar doldrums. I personally never had any direct connection with Cammell Lairds, but I did live though and was affected by those austere years.
Laughter and tears
There were great moments of humour, wonderful singing and plenty of tear-jerking scenes from a fabulous cast who each performed a multitude of characters ranging from upper-class toffs through to rank and file working (and shirking) Merseysiders. They did so with passion and compassion, giving a performance of the quality we have come to expect of the Royal Court and doing fine justice to Brian McCann’s script.
Down our Street runs at Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre until 27th April 2013. Tickets cost from £11. Book online or by calling the ticket hotline on 0870 787 1866
A truly fabulous cast: Micky Finn, Crissy Rock, Suzanne Collins, Lesley Butler, Lenny Wood, Lynne Fitzgerald, Roy Brandon, Lindzi Germain and Tom Hughes, with a cameo appearance by Ruth Laird right at the end. (Click the images to enlarge)