It seems Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre has had a bun in the oven – and now Homebaked the Musical has been born.
This is an uplifting and heartwarming play based upon the true story of a community’s struggle to keep its identity and keep the urban developers at bay.
Twenty-one years ago, Mitchell’s Bakery was scheduled for demolition, along with the adjoining streets nestled between Anfield and Everton. When it closed down, the building was taken over to act as a base from where the community task force would fight the council.
Through the medium of music and comedy, this play tells of how the volunteers learned how to bake and brought the bakery back to life, renaming it Homebaked. Of how they invented the Shankly Pie to sell to match-goers, both Blue and Red, but most of all, feeding the community spirit that would eventually win against the developers.
Royal Court regulars Paul Broughton and Eithne Browne had been chafing at the bit to get back on stage after the pandemic. Both shone in their roles as self-taught baker Frank and old Mrs Mitchell whose recipes he followed.
The role of the activist’s leader, Annie, brought seasoned actor Pauline Daniels back after an absence of ten years, slotting into the Royal Court’s ethic of good, not so clean fun as if she’d never been away.
Liam Tobin’s last role here was in “Lost in Colomendy” and he’s certainly not mislaid his ability to raise a laugh as was witnessed in his roles as the hapless Colin and Plod, the pedantic policeman.
Undergoing their baptism of fire in the ways of “The Court” were George Caple, George Jones and Steph Lacey. No fingers got burned though, as they seamlessly fitted in, raising laughs and raising spirits with the uplifting songs.
As always, the music was superb. All original songs, penned mainly by the play’s writer Boff Whalley, with the usual magical ingredients added by the theatre’s musical director Howard Gray, whose band was installed in the attic of the bakery, partially in view throughout.
To sum up, Homebaked the Musical is a funny, uplifting play and a lovely treat for anyone hungry for something to laugh and smile about following eighteen months of comedy celibacy. It runs until the 23rd of October and if you book a meal in the stalls, you can even treat yourself to a slice of genuine Shankly Pie.