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Play Review - Helen Forrester’s Twopence to Cross the Mersey Floral Pavilion New Brighton

Helen Forrester’s Twopence to Cross the Mersey Floral Pavilion New Brighton

It was the strangest start to an event that the audience at The Floral Pavilion in New Brighton will have ever encountered as it was the same evening that the announcement was made of the death of the Queen.

As we entered the foyer we are greeted with an illuminated wonderful photograph of Queen Elizabeth which was a touching tribute to her. The stage manager had the most unusual task of relating the news to the gathered audience and declaring a two minutes silence which gave us all time to reflect on the life of the Queen. It was a start to the night which everyone will remember I’m sure.

The book by Helen Forester is very well known telling the story of a very hard upbringing in Liverpool and this part of her life is set in 1931 during the depression and its true to say we may well be entering a similar time over the next few years, let us hope that fewer people fall through the cracks this time.

Helen Forrester’s original book was published in the 70s and is the poignant account of a poverty-stricken childhood in Liverpool during the 1930s. It’s a harrowing tale and one would think that it would be hard to make an uplifting story out of it, but that did happen. The original production was first staged at the Liverpool Empire in 2004 to great reviews and has been performed many times over the years.

Rob Fennah adapted the book into a play which begins with John Forrester relocating his family to Liverpool from the South of England thinking he would regain some of his fortune lost before and during the depression, moving to Liverpool at that time wasn’t going to help as of course likeall other cities there was little work to be found.

Moving from crisis to crisis the family move to various parts of the city with our hero Helen keeping the family together until at last thing get a bit little better.

Short scenes of family arguments and more light hearted moments make this a very interesting play with a simple but very effective staging and some great acting.

There are many well-known Merseyside faces in the production led by Lynn Francis as the mother and Mark Moraghan as the totally inept father John Forrester. Helen Forrester is played by Jenny Murphy and the comedy of which there is quite a bit is provided by Rob Hudson, Daniel Taylor and Roy Carruthers.

Well directed by Gareth Tudor Price and produced by Bill Elms this was the first night of of a long tour which takes in over a dozen venues including St Helens, Southport and finishing off in Liverpool at The Epstein in November.

Well worth seeing.

Peter Rimmer

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