Sex & Docks & Rock ‘n’ Roll

Red Ladder Theatre Company
Crosby Civic Theatre
22nd November 2010

Reviewed by Ritchie Hunter

The family theme starts as we enter Crosby Civic Theatre. Mum, dad and the kids all seem to be helping out in the foyer. From the stage we are welcomed into by the McDermott family. Jean, played by Lisa Howard, is the mum and the narrator, introducing her husband, Ronnie, and grownup kids. All burst into song, explaining they are a “dysfunctional family”.

Jean’s narrative journey continues as she tells us her whole family are caught up in the middle of a strike to free Paddy Neary, a seaman banged up in Brixton Prison for leading a dispute for better conditions. There’s the dad Ronnie (Dean Nolan), a loveable slob, and Jack (Nigel Lister), who is trying to form a band, and then there is Barry, who is “a few rides short of an amusement park”.

Jean invites people in the audience to tell her if they don’t follow anything that is happening. Someone two rows behind me shouts: “Speak up I can’t hear you”. Everyone thinks this woman is a plant in the audience. It becomes clear though that she isn’t, because she carries on muttering in the background for about ten minutes until she gets up and leaves. Jean shouts, “come to the front, you can lip read”. This kind of ‘pantomime’ interplay runs through the rest of the evening. Proceedings are sort of slow to start, but warm up as we get into the style of the drama, and the slapstick comedy. By the end we are rocking in our seats.

There is some cracking music here and the lyrics relate to the theme of the script. Ronnie sings a chorus “Ignore the party leaders/With all their dirty fingers in the pie” and we all sing along. Barry sings: “Everyone thinks this is a guitar but it’s not. Everyone thinks I’m soft but I’m not”. We all laugh. We don’t think he’s soft.

Thanks to Boff Whalley from Chumbawamba, who wrote this play and composed the music, for bringing Crosby this entertaining show.

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