By the Waters of Liverpool

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

By the Waters of Liverpool the follow up go the hugely successful Twopence to cross the Mersey is a continuation of the fascinating life story of Merseyside novelist Helen Forrester. The eldest of seven children Helen and her family were forced to leave behind the luxuries of their middle-class lives after their father went bankrupt due to the Great Depression.

Life without the privileges they were used to was hard, not only faced with the fight to survive but also the increasing rise in fascism which meant war was looming large.

Set pre and early World War II Helen’s is a fascinating, emotional and honest story about the realities of growing up at a time when everything you know has changed, money is tight and tensions within a strained household run high. The family who were once affluent enough to employ their own servants now struggle to keep the creditors from their door with Helen as the eldest child seemingly taking the brunt of her parents shame and frustration.

Using the ‘story theatre’ device characters both narrate and address directly the audience with all cast members aside from Helen (Lucy Dixon) taking on multiple roles. This style of storytelling works incredibly well as characters are brought to life convincingly and with sensitivity by this talented cast.

Mark Moraghan and Sian Reeves convince as Helen’s parents, struggling to adapt to their new lives the tension created in the household feels authentic and adds dramatic tension to the piece. Like the other cast members they skilfully switch between roles with apparent ease.

Dixon is superb as Helen, she really gets to the heart of the character, quietly determined despite the obstacles both life and her family have put in her way. Her sensitive portrayal of a young woman who had to fight hard for the right to make her own choices is both believable and moving.

Eric Potts is a delight in his various roles from zealous ARP warden to enthusiastic dance teacher, he brings great warmth and genuine fun to each role.

Lynn Francis proves what a talented actress she is bringing a real wit and creativity to each character she portrays while Danny O’Brien adds a heartwarming emotional depth to the piece as Helen’s fiancé Harry and Parry Glasspool impresses in multiple clearly defined & strongly delivered roles.

Richard Foxton’s simple set design is evocative and atmospheric beautifully lit by Ian Scott while Kate Harvey’s sound design transports you from scene to scene against the iconic Liverpool backdrop.

Writer Rob Fenah and director Gareth Tudor Price have worked together wonderfully to bring this well-paced and satisfying production to the stage.

This is a celebration of Forrester’s determination and drive to succeed against the odds delivered truthfully.

By the Waters of Liverpool will leave both your heart warmed and your eyes a little misty as this bitter-sweet story leaves its loving mark.

By the Waters of Liverpool will tour until 13th May further information and tickets can be found via the following link

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