Shorefields Drama Group
Casa, Hope Street, on 18th July 2005
‘Mersey Memories’ consisted of three ‘playlets’,
written by local Liverpool writers around this year’s ‘City
of Culture’ theme of 'the sea', performed to a local and knowledgeable
audience in ‘the dockers club’.
The first - ‘African Man, Liverpool Heart’ by Robert Awork
- told the tale of an African seaman’s affection for his adopted
‘warts and all’ Liverpool. ‘Nobodies’, written
by Alan Bower, revealed the realities and dangers of 2nd World War-torn
dock work, reflecting on workers’ rights and avoiding dropping bombs,
whilst ‘The Cokes’ by Gerard F. Howkins, dealt with 1960s
dockers’ canteens and particularly the historically unrecognised
role of women working on the docks.
Once again Shorefields Drama Group has worked hard to provide drama that
is relevant and entertaining to a working class audience whilst retaining
a high standard. As such the pieces were greeted with enthusiasm throughout.
Of particular note was Alan Bower’s ‘Nobodies’, which
was gripping as it dynamically and naturalistically exposed the tensions
within the docker culture - the solidarity that kept the tensions at bay
and the very real threat of German bombs. This thirty minute piece took
place in the hold of a ship and was complimented by the droning of bombers
and the whining of delivered bombs. The ensemble acting was strong throughout,
and had been given the chance to shine and give expression by a well crafted
script. ‘Nobodies’ also dealt with class conflict and previous
workers’ strikes, which was illuminating but not always entirely
woven into the script. Nevertheless it has all the potential to be extended
to a full length play.
Whilst ‘African Man’ did not have quite the same dramatic
punch – it was more of a poetic soliloquy, more reflective in tone
– it had some clever touches, and importantly revealed the African
influence on this city. It also managed to invert a few expectations with
Bob - a black seaman married to a white Liverpudlian - laughing to his
white shipmate that he found it funny that his kids ‘look like me
and talk like you’!
Of similar importance was the recognition of the role of women in the
industrial life of this city found within ‘The Cokes’. The
tension created came from disputes between the male dockers and the female
canteen staff over who worked the hardest. As in the other pieces the
acting was solid throughout.
All three plays have potential to be extended from these short pieces
into plays in their own right and are certainly important enough in representing
the working class, men and women, black and white of this city. Shorefields
Drama deserve much applause for this alone but so much more.
For more details about Shorefields, visit