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"A lorra lorra laughs" By The Waters of Liverpool.

Eric Potts and Sian Reeves - Photo © Anthony Robling.

By The Waters Of Liverpool, Albany Theatre, Coventry, from 20-21 September.

Review by Barbara Goulden

Oozing with Second World War atmosphere is the best description of this Helen Forrester play based on her novel of the same name and largely based on her own childhood.

The whole theatrical experience at The Albany in Coventry was also a complete delight for my "scouse" next door neighbour Lorraine who revelled in the authentic-sounding accents that brightened up the comedy highlights in what is an otherwise serious play about just how spartan life could be during the 1930s and 1940s.

Responsible for much of the comedy was Lynne Fitzgerald who played a variety of roles but, most successfully, I thought, as a hairdresser when - according to Lorraine - she spoke like a "True Scotty Roader."

Lucy Dixon as Helen- Photo © Anthony Robling.

But Lynne was just one of a highly talented nine-strong touring cast led by Emma Mulligan in her first professional role as she takes on the part of neglected Helen, yearning for love and fearing her life will never improve. Echoes undoubtedly of the author's own childhood as the eldest in a poverty-stricken family of seven.

As the play opens we meet young Helen first and are immediately drawn into her thwarted, narrow world - not the vibrant Liverpudlian world that bursts out all around her but the place she has been forced to live after bankruptcy has forced her father to move the whole family from their previously comfortable life in the south.

Cast of 2023 - Photo © Anthony Robling.

Hence Helen has no rich accent herself, this is left to the rest of the team having a rip-roaring time as they dance, rob, dodge bombs and order blackout material.

Act Two certainly leaps out of the sometimes one-paced gloom of Act One and as Helen bursts into her new life I particularly loved the dance lessons.

It's a place that is well worth watching. It will give you pause for thought and as a certain other famous scouser once said: "A lorra lorra laughs."

Sian Reeves and Chloe McDonald - Photo © Anthony Robling

It's also faithful to the book and true to the experiences of so many during the last world war.

* Also the new, improved Albany Theatre looks great these days. A new entrance is to be added shortly.

Please note there are performances today at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.


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