When We Are Married, Theatre Review. Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool. (2016).

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10

Cast: Kat Rose-Martin, Luke Adamson, Sophia Hatfield, Mark Stratton, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Adrian Hood, Sue Devaney, Steve Huison, Kate Anthony, Lisa Howard, Matthew Booth, Barrie Rutter, Zoe Lambert, John Gully, Andy Hall.

Mr. J. B. Priestley never fails to deliver, even if there are those out in the dark who fail to get the nuance of the times and denounce the clever introspection the playwright had on British Society and making it look back on its own peculiarities and diminishing importance on the future. Whereas the epic An Inspector Calls is very much in the calm outraged camp, the heated tongue of a barracking old outdated ways of thought, his classic drawing room comedy When We Are Married is firmly in the chaotic tranquillity mode and it is one that never loses its heart, especially not in the hands of the superb Northern Broadsides.

Last preformed at the Playhouse Theatre in 2009 and with Les Dennis amongst its star cast, Northern Broadsides take on the play was one in which the true beating heart of life in the north was firmly entrenched. The mannerisms, the subtle word play and the graft of the performances were astonishing and it is arguably down to the fact that Director Barrie Rutter, himself the pivotal pin in the company, feels these plays, for all their northern prominence with the stirring passion of the area and the times.

The play ingeniously and deviously asks the audience what they think of the institution of marriage, how they view it a 100 years after the play is set, the traditional conservative view of forever is challenged in one clerical mix-up. The sudden shift in the power of the three couples involved now redressing and morphing into something different, a new found respect for the thought of independence in one, in another the female dominance tested and confronted and in the other the thought of games whitewashed; it is a modern question of equality within marriage and what it brings each person.

With Sue Devaney making her debut appearance for Northern Broadsides, the audience was captivated by her reading of Annie Parker, her sudden blooming as she realises there could be a life away from a man she has come to find a bore, and whose large presence in the town does not match the personality she would have liked to have been associated with. Ms. Devaney, along with the exceptional Steve Huison and Kate Anthony as Mr. and Mrs. Soppitt respectively, gave a divine performance and one that fed directly into the ethos of the company’s long industrious past.

A smashing play brought to life by Northern Broadsides, one of Liverpool’s favourite touring companies, When We Are Married has no hitches, no knots, just a play of enormous fun deep in its wedded heart and one to say I do to.

Ian D. Hall