REVIEW: Brick Up 2: The Wrath of Ann Twacky
If writers Dave Kirby and Nicky Allt finally make it on to our TV screens they could well become the new Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais or Merseyside’s answer to sit-com kings, Marks and Gran.
The duo have been making people laugh for more than a decade – long may their take on life’s absurdites continue.
For now, they have stamped their considerable mark as a formidable partnership and as critically-acclaimed solo writers for the stage.
Dave’s Lost Soul and Nicky’s Liverpool FC homage You’ll Never Walk Alone return to the revamped Royal Court later this year.
The theatre’s looking good with its on-going make-over and other developments such as the five star pre-show eating experience. The Court knows its audience well.
So, if Brendan O’Carroll’s Irish born and bred show Mrs Brown’s Boys can transfer to the smalll screen – why can’t the characters created by our Dave and Nicky performed by Scouse acting stalwarts also go national?
Brick Up The Mersey Tunnels could do it.
It is the musical tale of a gang of amiable nutters from Liverpool seeking independence from stuck- up, snobby Wirral residents. It was inspired by an irate letter sent in to the Liverpool Echo. This isn’t fake news .
The show’s well-deserved success saved the Royal Court from closure and now it is back ten years older – and a decade funnier.
I should know I have seen every press night from year one and every tweak adds to its longevity.
Brick Up 2 is a clever concept picking up where the original left off. Now its the Wirral that wants revenge.
This follow-up picks up where the first one ended. The Kingsway Three are back as the Queensway Queens! The tunnels are blocked, the Runcorn Bridge is rubble and The Kingsway trio have cemented their crazy mission. But now the Wirral want the upper hand.
Led by Mrs Twacky, Wirralians are rising up and calling for ‘Birkenhexit.’ They simply don’t want the tunnels back and are prepared to go to extremes to keep them shut.
The entire cast work hard to keep the action moving nicely along on Billy Meal’s effective, compact set.
Director Bob Eaton knows his cast well and the two and half hours speed along, The first half setting the scene as we catch up with the characters and, after the interval, it’s a volley of explosive bouts of hilarity.
Eithne Browne, one of the city’s most accomplished actresses, gives her usual gravitas. She plays the blue-rinsed Heswall housewife Ann as if tackling Evita.
All-rounder Eithne, like many of the cast , does all she can do to stop corpsing. It is such a happy crew. The rehearsals should have been recorded for posterity.
Andrew Schofield has turned the character of Dicky Lewis into something of a cult hero. Yes, I said cult.
The dust-covered labourer is a dream for any actor, but Andrew adds that extra dimension when he is allowed to show off his considerable guitar skills.
Francis Tucker – also in the resident band- has spent the last month in a dress at the Everyman and again drags-up as ludicrous Liz Card.
She loves Father Ted and Dicky is the next best thing – what a clerical error. Their romantic brief encounter in dingy Dickie’s diner is a laugh-out-loud scene.
Paul Duckworth and Suzanne Collins are both superb especially on a duet as Gerard Gardner and Maggie respectively. Their version of Take That’s Want You Back For Good is both funny and, yes, poignant.
The songs have been adapted very well. Queen’s Under Pressure becomes a Cheshire anthem. And Andrew Schofield’s ballad of Bin Laden has to be heard to be believed.
Atomic Kitten’s re-worked Whole Again is another musical higlight.
Roy Brandon as Dennis Twankey and Carl Chase as Nick Walton re-visit their roles and both are in fine form adding more comic nunaces to their characters.
The whole team are vastly experienced in any genre and it shows and newcomer Danny Burns stamps his mark asa bag guy – the nasty Elliot Neston.
Even the programme notes are funny. It includes this warning to theatre-goers in the Court’s own ‘ Can I Bring My Gran-0- Meter ‘ . It suggests the following guide rating : four points for swearing; two for rudeness and one for nudity .
Welcome back, Brick Up 2.
Here’s to the next ten years.
Brick-Layered wth lashings of Laughter
Until February 25
Box Office : 0151 709 4321.