Sunday, 27 October 2019

THEATRE REVIEW: The Mums, Their Sons, And The Knife - Hope Street Theatre, Liverpool.

'The Mums, Their Sons And The Knife' was written and directed by Bri Mansy, whose has done an incredible job bringing the play to life on the stage of Liverpool's Hope Street Theatre. His direction was tight and controlled, but extremely focused. He has utilised the stage to it’s full potential. Having the stage separated into two areas, worked extremely efffectively as we could see all the action take place. Liked the concept of having good one side, then bad on the other.

Bri Mansy’s writing for the play was really good. The dialogue felt genuine and sincere in parts. I particularly liked how the dialogue of the younger characters like Wayne and Macca were true to life and used words that young people say today on the street. Mansy also did the sound design for 'The Mums, Their Sons And The Knives' which was good. There were no sound issues and all the dialogue was pitch perfect. The sound effects worked well for the scenes required and weren’t over used.

Daniel Scott produced and assisted the direction with Bri Mansy. His production values were good and evidently observed throughout the production. His assistance in the direction was great as it’s always a good thing to have another person’s perspective to collaborate with.

The cast of characters included Liz (Julie Ross), Jake (Jamie Dunning), Rachel (Rebecca Bryan), Mary (Pam Ashton), Wayne (Taylor Illingtonworth), Macca (Adam Gannon), Epiphany (Evie Kaifman), The Officer (Karen Sourness) and The Surgeon (Jac Larnerd). Mansy and Scott have both done a good job working with such a big cast and getting the best of out of all the actors involved in the production.

The Story opened with two friends meeting up in the street and going their separate ways home. Jake lived in a loving home with his mother, Liz and younger sister, Rachel, whereas Wayne lived with his mother, Mary, and there always seemed to be an atmosphere between them. Jake was a happy-go-lucky guy, always smiling, whereas Wayne always appeared full of anger and hate. On a night out in the city centre, Jake meets his sister in a nightclub. Whilst there, Wayne and Macca bumped into them a few times. After no word of an apology or to stop bumping into them, Jake decided to confront them. Rachel also had words with him. A lot of swearing and words were exchanged between all the characters. After the commotion and conflict, Wayne and Macca leave the scene, but it is then discovered Wayne has stabbed Jake in a fit of anger.

Sadly, Jake passed away in the hospital with his sister, Rachel by his side. In the meantime, The Officer calls at Jake’s home to speak to his mum, Liz about what occurred the night before. She is totally distraught and an emotional wreck. Later on The Officier paid a visit to the home of Wayne to get to the bottom of what happened.

A deep family secret is soon discovered about Jake and Wayne, which caused more friction and pain for the Mums. Whilst in jail, Wayne was visited by the ghost of his victim, Jake and his future daughter, Epiphany. This was a brilliant concept to use and see the play from a different perspective. The monologues of Liz, the Surgeon and Mary were brilliant and gave an insight into their anguish and pain from different points of view.

The running theme of the play was obviously knife crime and the devastating effects a stabbing can have on the families from both sides. Knife crime at the moment is very tropical as there have been so many lives, particularly young ones taken away too soon. Doing a play like this really helps the awareness and brings the issue to the forefront of the audience. I noticed there were a lot of youngsters in the audience, which the play was aiming to get their message across to them about why youngsters shouldn’t be carrying knives around with them, on the street. The producers of this play have worked very closely with local charity'No More Knives' to help raise awareness.

The acting was of a good standard. For me personally, Julie Ross’s portrayal of Liz was exceptionally good. Her emotions were harrowing to watch, but her performance felt genuine and heartfelt, which reached out to the audience. Special mention to Evie Kaufman, her monologues were a joy and mermising to watch on the stage. Liked the concept of having an child in the play as this demonstrated the innocence of the youth.
The simplicity of the set design worked extremely effectively as the story of the play flowed without many interruptions. There was a few props utilised for the show. However, the prop of the knife was the most powerful one, as it demonstrated the damage and hurt a blade can do to someone and their families. All the characters were dressed in modern clothes to fit with the era of today.

A projector used for the background scenes in 'The Mums, Their Sons And The Knife' was really good and allowed the play to move from one location to another. The lighting was really good, the contrast of light and dark worked well with the mood of the play. Additionally, this also enhanced the tension of the scenes and conflict of the characters in the show. The song choices of music was very effective and fitted really well into the scenes of the play.

On a final note, 'The Mums, Their Sons And The Knife' was a great piece of theatre with a defined message of how a stabbing can affect not just the victims, but their families too. This play pulled no punches and was extremely raw, hard-hitting and powerful. It gave a honest portrayal of what society is liked today, unfortunately. This show comes highly recommended with a strong cast, with a good, solid narractive. The play had parallels with Blood Brothers, another Scouse play, which is known worldwide. I really hope this play gets to perform again at a bigger venue and reach more people, particularly the younger ones. Well done to everyone involved in the play for putting on such a fantastic show!

Reviewer - Mark Cooper 
on - 25/10/19

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