Our Lady of Blundellsands

Jonathan Harvey

Everyman Theatre, Liverpool

Friday 6 – Saturday 28 March 2020; 2hr 20min

Josie Lawrence, Annette Badland, Tony Maudsley, Gemma Brodrick, Matt Henry and Nathan McMullen in Our Lady of Blundellsands at the Everyman, Liverpool. All pics: Marc Brenner

Secrets and lies within a dysfunctional family form the plot of this tragi-comic play, written for the Everyman by Jonathan Harvey.

Ageing sisters Sylvie (Josie Lawrence) and Garnet (Annette Badland) live together in cluttered companionship. Sylvie lives in a fantasy world in which she imagines herself a media star with adoring fans, always on the brink of a career relaunch. Garnet is her unacknowledged carer, whose own life expectations have been limited by Sylvie’s dependence on her.

They are getting ready for a family party to celebrate Garnet’s birthday. Cue the arrival of Sylvie’s two sons and their partners – gay couple Mickey Joe (Tony Maudsley) and Frankie (Matt Henry), and Lee Lee (Nathan McMullen) and Alyssa (Gemma Brodrick).

Family secrets, hidden for generations, are exposed, undermining assumptions about past and current relationships. Everyone is challenged to face a new reality.

The play, directed by Nick Bagnall, is fast-paced and very funny without losing the pathos of guilty secrets

and their painful exposure. Stand-out moments include Mickey-Joe’s drag queen act, Sylvie’s reprise of her fantasied Z-Cars routine and Garnet’s powerful final act. Frankie’s frustrated love for Mickey-Joe is emotionally powerful and Lee-Lee’s Peter Pan moment introduces a degree of levity to strained emotions. Alyssa’s efforts at understanding this untypical family dynamic create some laugh-out-loud moments. Stage set, lighting and music play an essential part in creating an intimacy with the audience that

immediately engages them in the action.

This is an unapologetically Liverpudlian production which will clearly appeal to local audiences, but its themes of family dysfunction and the need to come together with hope for a better future are universal.

#jonathanHarvey #JosieLawrence #AnnetteBadland

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