Written by Laurence Wilson
Everyman Theatre, 29th Oct to 20th November
Urban Legend is the latest in the Everyman's 'Life begins' season of
new writing, begun by the theatre’s new artistic and executive directors
Gemma Bodinetz and Deborah Aydon, to return the Everyman to being a fully
producing theatre once more.
This is the first full work by Wilson whose previous trilogy of short
plays, Surf's Up, set around Crosby, won a Manchester Evening News award
for theatre. This play has a setting not to far away from the last being
set almost entirely in a flat of a Bootle high-rise.
Here three generations of men live, well exist; Horse, the grandfather
a broken former boxer, separated mysteriously from his wife. Robbie his
eldest son, struggling to provide for his family having 'retired' at forty,
and Robbie's own son Wayne who despite his musical talent is still crippled
with grief over the death of his mother, the legend of whom looms large
over the play.
Each character spends the first act of the play trying to hide from the
demons from their past. Blaming others for their predicament or simply
not caring, Granddad hides behind his conspiracy theories while Robbie
and Wayne mask their sorrows with beer and pot respectively (Wayne doing
resin buckets on stage is quite possibly a theatre first). And doing the
traditional Liverpool thing of hiding behind humour, there are some great
one-liners throughout the play, bringing the audience out in fits of laughter,
though some of the catch phrases are layered on a bit thick.
While in the second act the play takes a more tragic twist, after a series
of shocking revelations the characters façade’s break down
and they are each forced to face what they has brought them to this situation
and their own fears. And there are many poignant moments as they learn
to move on, particularly when Wayne brings out the courage to play his
There is only a small amount of action in the play, being set almost
entirely in one flat, however the dialogue between the characters is so
good it still manages to hold your attention. Wilson has a real ear for
language and his characterisation brings out the little idiosyncrasies
hidden in all of us.
All actors performed well, but with a stand out performance from Mark
Arends as Wayne and John Campbell must be praised for taking on and learning
the key role of Horse in less than a week after Alt Kossy was forced to drop out, surely
one of the hardest challenges for an actor.
The tragedy in the play is well balanced out with dark humour, which
prevents it becoming a misery-fest. A good story of people learning to
live with the past and move on and another good play from the revitalised