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April 4- 8

On tour until May 20

Gabriel

Liverpool Playhouse
https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/

3*

There’s a nod here to ‘Whistle down the wind': an unconscious stranger, discovered on the beach in occupied Guernsey, is brought to a farmhouse for shelter. And a touch of the classic poltergeist set up, with four generations of women including a volatile, unhappy teenager; when the play opens, she is engrossed in casting a spell. The Becquets: mother, daughter, and daughter-in-law, along with housekeeper, Lake, have been forced to relinquish their grand home; the last, with matriarch, Jeanne, scrape a living via the Black Market.

A rickety set, creatively done, represents the oppressive, uneasy atmosphere: cellar, kitchen and bedroom standing for Hell, Earth and Heaven. However, the stairs to the latter seem to turn into an escalator with characters shooting up and down, yet sometimes, they take ages. Maybe picky, but that is not the worst of it. That’s the over-indulgence of irony, via misunderstanding and misdirection. It works pretty well the first time, in the scene introducing Jeanne and von Pfunz, except for the caveat that an actor of McGann’s calibre is not going to be used in a virtually non-speaking role. But this device is constantly repeated, fatally so, literally, at the most dramatic moment, stage right, when the focus is stage left. The ending pretty much fizzles out, and even the publicity could be misleading because it looks like McGann is actually Gabriel.

Fortunately, plenty of humour in the caustic dialogue balances the underlying tragedy and helps to lighten proceedings. And the cast are largely quite exceptional, particularly Belinda Lang as Jeanne, splendidly arrogant, sarcastic and brave; prepared to go to any lengths to protect her family, resulting in a kind of Stockholm Syndrome with Von Pfunz, although too bizarre to be wholly convincing. Her partner in crime, Lake, played by Jules Melvin, is admirably stoical and down to earth, in contrast to the mercurial and rebellious Estelle; Venice van Someren’s is a poignant portrayal of a rather exasperating teenager. Sarah Schoenbeck is perhaps the bravest of them all as Lily, a Jewess in constant fear for her life.

Good to see a wartime drama with four strong female roles, each woman, hard-working (in their own way; Jeanne’s ways are nothing like the others), determined and loyal to a fault.

Then there’s the two mystery men, both of them with the potential to turn the world upside down. Robin Morrissey as Gabriel, speaking both English and German perfectly, eventually comes round, yet does not altogether come to life. He does however successfully convey anguish, at the loss of identity, then at two dreadful revelations. And whilst many actors relish the opportunity of playing the villain, McGann has to grapple with an unbelievably complex character: a poetic Nazi; buffoon and bully. The occasional silly giggle does nothing to indicate something sinister, yet he is unquestionably in command, in every way, of every scene in which he appears.

It is he who brings the crowds in, but this first play from Moira Buffini, from 20 years ago, is an early indication of her talent. Overall, plenty to provide intriguing entertainment for the audience, and to tell their friends about.

March 28 – April 1

Liverpool Playhouse
https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/

4*

Let’s start at the very end, which seems appropriate because of Matthew Bourne’s mischievous fondness and clever knack for turning the everyday and established topsy turvy. After all, his Q&A session seemed to have had the biggest ever turn out, and included a lot about his background as

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Fancy a closer look?
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And the Poetry Library:
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178

Orbis 178, Winter

£5 (Overseas: £10/€14/$16); Subs: £18/4 pa (Overseas: £36/€50/$60)

Front cover artwork: ‘Underneath the Grove of Sycamore” by Gavin Singleton
back cover, detail from image: https://www.artgallery.co.uk/artist/gavin_singleton

Not long now, surely…Saving the Light (Tom McFadden) tells us
Spring is on the way.
and we’ll all be outside, tucking into Haagen Dazs
alongside
Geroge Saito,somewhere, oh I don’t know, perhaps overlooking
a
Harbour Scene, sharing the view with Jack Little.
We could be looking for
Charlie Baylis and his Mermaids, or even
The Witch, Her Book in Martha Street’s tale.However, given the English weather,
more likely we’ll be thinking 
Sarah Sibley’s got it right: The wind is a curse,
if not quite as bad as what 
Vuyelwa Carlin says concerning
a
Rat in the Frosty Garden. But let’s get serious and discover
what
Dorothy Yamamoto knows about A brief history of footwear.
Or should that be
Surreal? Courtesy of Michael Henry, Je suis un mouchoir
because you can enjoy all sorts, even the unexpected, in
Orbis.

Featured Poet

Pat Galvin: The Moon Fell Among the Trees; Unseen; It was a Different Life,

Poems from: Derek Coyle, Carlow Poem #59; Robin Daglish, Nowhen;
Helen Kay, Dyslexia and the Live Art Hit; Elizabeth McSkeane,
Arguing with ArithmeticK. V. Twain, At Night I Covet the State of the Sculpture;
Martin Worster, The Night Guard

Prose from: Linda Griffin, Soldiers in the garden;
Mark Reece, A Meeting of StrangersSarah Samuels, The Parcel from Kabul

Translation: Fred Beake, Four poems from Theognis (Book 2)

Past Master: Philip Dunkerley on Cora Coralina

Reviews by
Ross Cogan,
Clairr O’Connor, David Harmer, Afric McGlinchey,
D. A. Prince, Lynne Taylor, David Troman
and Noel Williams


Orbis
177
contributors also include:

Mark Behan; Denise Bennett; Gail Dendy; Richard George;
Ann Gibson; 
Alan Hester; Dorrie Johnson; Fred Johnston; Robert Kennedy;
Mary Lee; 
Michael McCarthy; Dave Medd; Nancy Anne Miller;
Simon Perchik; Jenna Plewes; 
Joan Sheridan Smith; Ginny Sullivan;
Peter Sutton Merryn Williams; Martin Worster

March 14 – 25

Cyrano

Liverpool Playhouse
https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/

4*

Cyrano de Bergerac is one of those larger than life characters – well, his nose is certainly: a Renaissance Man, skilled in warfare as well as words,

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February 7-11

(On tour until February 25)

Pride and Prejudice

Liverpool Playhouse
https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/

3*

A regular Regency romp, played for laughs… Such a rollercoaster of comedy may not seem quite in keeping with Miss Austen’s noted wit,

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February 14-18

(On tour until February 25)

Glasgow Girls

Liverpool Playhouse
https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/

4*

It’s always interesting coming to see a play about which you know next to nothing, and a surprise when it turns out that you cannot recall anything

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December 9 – 24

Little Red and the Big, Bad Wolf

Unity Theatre

www.unitytheatreliverpool.co.uk

4*

The Unity pantomime is always that little bit different, homely, and, to be honest, homilies – but at least no water (or innuendo) is used

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December 10-31

Snow White

Liverpool Empire

http://www.liverpooltheatres.com/empire.htm

4*

Seen one panto, seen them all – it can sometimes feel like that, particularly when you’re on to your umpteenth Cinderella or

(photo: Mark McNulty)

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December 9-January 14

The Star: An entertainment by Michael Wynne

Liverpool Playhouse
https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/

4*

You pays your money and you takes your seat, and what do you get? A mixture as rich as the best quality Christmas cake. This is an absolutely

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Grey Hen Press

GREY HEN PRESS CHRISTMAS SALE

 Half price offer on all books ordered by post or email
during November and December 2016

Grey Hen Press, PO Box 269, Kendal, Cumbria, LA9 9FE
info@greyhenpress.com

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