After a hugely successful run at The Royal Court The Official Story of Liverpool Football Club returns for a special three night run at Liverpool’s Echo Arena. Writer Nicky Allt and the cast attended a press conference at Anfield to chat about the show. “It’s a really interactive show” said actor Jake Abraham, “the audience likes to get involved”. This is no surprise, LFC’s passionate fan base is renowned worldwide and the show, which covers the highs and lows of LFC’s hundred and twenty year history, is the perfect vehicle for that passion.
The play tells the story of LFC through a family of fans through several generations, with the actors playing multiple characters. “It’s about people” explained writer Nicky Allt, “it’s about what people have done to make this club what it is”. It’s this focus that gives the show its emotional core. But, “It can make costume changes a bit mad” said actress Lindzi Germain. The first act deals with creation of the club in 1892 till the reds reached the zenith of world football under managerial legends Bill Shankley and Bob Paisley. “The music’s really important in that sense, it helps define the different decades” said Nicky Allt, “it’s also a huge part of the history of club and the city”. It seems the music is particularly relevant to the 1960s section of the show. “That bit is really fun, Liverpool was the centre of the universe at that time with the football and The Beatles” explained actor Lenny Wood.
The show also cleverly uses stock footage to not only enhance the visual experience of the piece, but, also to aid the telling of the club’s history. “There’s a really funny bit of footage from the 60s were two boys talking about the dream of playing for LFC” added Abraham. This section that arguably covers the club’s Golden age gets an especially large reaction from the audience. “People still cheer louder for Bill Shankley when he appears on screen than anyone else” said Nicky Allt.
But, as much as the play celebrates LFC’s highs, it can also not avoid its lows. “The Hillsborough section is definitely the hardest” said Germain. The disaster is represented through a scene in which a mother (a character played by Germain) expresses grief for her son through a monologue while holding a drink he left behind after he is killed at Hillsborough. “You have to almost detach yourself as an actor, it would to too emotional otherwise”. It’s a scene that has a special resonance for the audience. “They often chant Justice for the 96 after that scene, in Dublin it went on for ages” remembered Wood. It was also a section that proved especially challenging in the writing and staging. “It was an issue of how do you go from a scene about Hillsborough to Robbie Fowler scoring the fastest hat rick ever” said Nicky Allt. It was a challenge that was ultimately solved by the sound direction of the show. “I didn’t feel like I could do that in dialogue” explained Allt. This where the music becomes a particularly poignant and hugely important function of the staging, fazing and slowing the change between scenes in order to give the audience time to emotionally recover.
However, like the club, the show is a living entity that will always recover and is ever changing. Writer Nicky Allt has tweaked and added to the show since its first run four years ago, which ended with Kenny Daglish returning for his second stint as the club’s manager. In the subsequent runs new scenes have been added depicting the appointment of Brandan Rodgers and the club’s success last season also had an impact on the audience. “You could feel the energy of the audience increase as the team was doing better in the league” commented Wood. However, even this short run of shows will have some changes “there was a scene about Suarez, but, that has been be taken out” explained Allt. It seems like the Club, The Official Story of Liverpool Football Club will always have more story to tell.
The Official Story of Liverpool Football Club is on at EchoTwo @ Echo Arena from Thursday 28 to Saturday 30 August 2014.
To book tickets, call the Echo Arena Box Office on 0844 8000 400, or log on to www.echoarena.com.