Eric’s @ Everyman Theatre, Liverpool

cast list
Graham Bickley
Peter Caulfield
Rosalie Craig
Katy Dean, Sam Donovan
Stuart Ellis
Stephen Fletcher
Oliver Jackson
Ciaran Kellgren
Dean Kelly
Mark Moraghan
Lesley Nicol
James Rigby
Iris Roberts

directed by
Jamie Lloyd
Eric’s is a new musical commissioned by Mark Davies Markham as part of Liverpool’s jam-packed Capital of Cultureprogramme, celebrating Liverpool’s rich musical heritage and in particular, one infamous Mathew Street dive – butprobably not the one you’re thinking of.

This is the autobiographical tale of Markham’s own battle with leukaemia,interspersed with wonderfully realised flashbacks of his youth lived out amidst the city’s thriving punk scene.The dance numbers are intricately choreographed and executed with passion and energy, perfectly capturing therebellious spirit of the soundtrack which accompanies them, courtesy of the versatile and quite remarkable fourpiece band tucked away at the back of the stage.

The piece on the whole is wonderfully cast, full of characters that are larger than life. The stand-out performance isundoubtedly delivered by Sam Donovan; his Pete Wylie is the epitome of swaggering teen spirit.

The play is complicated ever so slightly by its structure; while the two interwoven narrative strands work wellsymbolically, their plots have little to do with each other, and the lapse between the then and now finds thecharacters somewhat lacking in development Rosalie Craig’s Sally comes out of nowhere into the tale, leaving meunable to feel much sympathy to her plight, or indeed for Graham Buckley’s Joe.

However this, I suspect, may be the point. There is no place in this story for pity, giving centre stage to afighting spirit that dispels the tragic end you could be forgiven for expecting from the decrepit set and ominouspresence of a hospital bed.

This is a celebration of a transient era, and as a result the play is quite self referential, with plenty of “you hadto be there” moments which I suspect made more sense to the various leather-clad 50-somethings in the audience, butdespite this, it manages to be as relevant as it is nostalgic, and well deserving of the three standing ovations itreceived at the end.

This is an inspirational life-affirming tale for our times, as touching as it is entertaining. Eric’s iseverything that it stands for: energy, rebellion and a damn good time.

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