The story is age old, the recognition of the writer and the artist not always forthcoming, not always appreciated by the wider world, bypassed it seems by those to whom image is the powerful narcotic, the drug of youth, of representing their ideal on the world. It is a shame, a collapse of hope perhaps that we do not laud the genius in those who plug away at night, forsaking even the life or the other pursuits they wish to engage in as they dig deep into their own memories, their loves and reminisces, in which a sense of order is hunted, dedication and discipline shadowed and overcome; to those we must seek out their charm and set the record straight on their enigma and the mystery they set out for us to follow.
There is no mistaking that the Liverpool Fringe has caught the attention of the public and dramatists alike; it may have some way to go to rival the Edinburgh Fringe, but all in good time, for now it has taken on a life that is representative of the city that bears its name. It is also a festival of drama that sees Brian Coyle and Emma Bird once more collaborate on a play, with Ms. Bird directing and Mr. Coyle having written what should be regarded as a heavy hitting comedy and satirical play, The King of the World.
Pantomime is special, it is social glue that binds generations and allows children their first journeys into appreciating theatre. It is also almost uniquely British, undeniably good fun and something that captures the inner child in us all. We may take our children and grandchildren along in the hope they will entertained, educated and thrilled by the music, the jokes and the magic that comes with a trip to see that Fairy Godmothers do exist, in which the hero and heroine of the story live happily ever after and the joy of the Pantomime Dame lead the audience through the innuendo, however it is as much for the adult in the group as it is the child.
History recalls those who leave joy in the hearts of others with fondness, a certain measure of tipped hat in acknowledgement of the good times provided and the sense of serenity they leave, almost freely, in their wake. History used to view such things perhaps as being unimportant, of being secondary to the writing of events, of generals and kings, of warfare and queens, politicians and plagues; thankfully since the 1950s it has also in abundance properly recorded the thoughts of artists, of musicians, of the drama witnessed from those whose words speak volumes, whose music stirs the passions we wish to see raised.
In all the ways we choose to cope with a particular problem, the choosing of a side, the letting go of the past, the trouble with our own involvement in a situation that go out of hand, none perhaps are constructive or as cathartic as realising that you have to go through the darkness to find the light, that the Bitter Before the Sweet is the only way to suffer if you want to let go of the anger, the possible rage and the undoubted regret.
A town in its own right, yet for some inexplicable reason, the people of Bootle will invariably say that they are from Liverpool when asked, not out of shame, or out misplaced thought, but perhaps out of association; after all for most of the younger townsfolk, Liverpool is a place to naturally gravitate too, it is where, after all, the centre of the Universe actually is, where noted psychoanalyst Carl Jung declared to be “The Pool of Life.”
Eleanor Nelly has been a woman to watch on stage for an awful long time, anybody who has the slightest idea of what makes somebody so eminent, so very cool as a performer will understandably nod their head in satisfaction and admiration when the young lady’s name comes up in conversation. To be held in such high esteem in Liverpool, the city in which she comes from and by people that have the pleasure, the honour of writing about and performing music in the city day in day out, it comes as no surprise that the talent, the sheer and exhausting hard work has paid off for Eleanor as she takes the next step in being signed to a major label, Decca.
Nick Bagnall sits down in one of the many chairs that regimentally line the ground floor café at the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool. A look of wide eyed humour that always seems to bring out the very best in who he is in conversation with fills the room and somehow, as if by some Shakespearian magic, manages to drown out the world surrounding him. The sound of the music that had the ears flapping in enjoyment before hand is now silent, the sense of nerves one feels when meeting someone who has done so much for the city’s artistic front in the last couple of years, is dissipated and sent packing into the ether as if carried by the Tempest or the heavy hand of Bottom.
There is a danger of meeting a hero, even if it is one dressed in flamboyant oversized dress, a huge wig that would not be out of place in a revival of a Georgian period comedy and the sound of laughter forthcoming across the various parts of the Epstein Theatre as they wind down on a day in which their Pantomime cast has run a mock and been interviewed to within an inch of their lives.
It is a battle cry but not one that is steeped in any political agenda, it is an urge to remember that once upon a time we cared for all in society, for it used to be that a whole village was responsible for the upbringing of a single child, the care of one is the care of all. Yet somehow we have become beleaguered, convinced that it is the right thing to do to ignore all the bad aspects of society, to not care about the homeless, the sick, those we perceive to be living a life of feckless abandon; it is a society that is on a tightrope, precariously balancing between keeping head held high and toeing the line eagerly signposted by many politicians or falling into the void themselves.