Pippin, Theatre Review. Unity Theatre, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10

Cast: Chris Walsh, Pete Fendall, Matthew Sheffield, Tom Loughlin, Steph Scrutton, Heather Burns, Eilish Mulvihill, Thomas Wiggins, Eugene Chong, Megan Key, Andrew Abrahamson, Kate Rugen, Andy Walker, Lizzie Paes, Charlotte Wilson, Steph Longmuir, Lily Maketansky.

Musicians: Josie Conti, Mark Newberry, Amy Fazakerley, Holly Burrows, Abigail Morris, Chloe Farrington, Tom Crowley, Xana Davies, Joe Barnes, Laura Copestake, Ben Dyer, Jonny Knight, Luke Thomas.

It was always possible to feel sorry for those that never liked reading about history, those to whom would always say that they had no interest in the subject or found it heaven forbid boring, not for them, for without the ability to look back on ourselves, the actions of the past which have led to your time on Earth and see what we have come from, how can you hope understand yourself and see the deck of cards that have been played in your favour or the not so random draw of finding King Charlemagne and losing your heart to the past.

It seems an absolute age since the fantastic theatre company What We Did Next were on stage at the Unity Theatre, of course time flies in Liverpool and even more so in the world of organising and producing a huge cast production which the city’s art devotees and fans would get their teeth into; for that Time is not the past conquest but the future endeavour and love and in Pippin, the love shines through completely.

In many ways Pippin is a one of the more demanding productions that the company has put on, up there easily with the energetic and powerful Into The Woods which had its heart a fantastic orchestra playing its part to the absolute maximum.

For this production of the Stephen Schwartz classic musical, once again the orchestra was key to the feel of the assembly of the pace and direction envisaged wonderfully by Shaun Holdom-Eyles and Charlotte Wilson. With the sense of a royal court’s troupe of players giving the appropriate scenic pasture behind the play, the life, almost, of King Charlemagne’s eldest son, Pippin, was brought to life, a man to whom perhaps bears a striking disposition to the fabled Faust; however instead of a pact with the Devil, this is the unwanted voice that lives on inside of us and the warning of over- reaching and not being satisfied with your particular station and limit in life.

With exemplary performances from Chris Walsh, Pete Fendall and Eilish Mulvihill as the narrator, three ringed circus master of the play, Pippin and his love to whom dreams are realised and with wonderful sense of timing and comic delivery by the whole team, Pippin is assured a place in the hearts of those who have come to rely on What We Did Next’s sense of adventure and those who see the group for the first time during this particular showing.

A musical worthy of the group, a sense of beautiful spirit shining through the masks of face paint and of history; Pippin is a glorious affair

Ian D. Hall