Review: BOYS FROM THE BLACKSTUFF, Liverpool's Royal Court

A powerful, poignant masterpiece.

By: Sep. 22, 2023
Review: BOYS FROM THE BLACKSTUFF, Liverpool's Royal Court

Review: BOYS FROM THE BLACKSTUFF, Liverpool's Royal Court Sat in Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre last night, I watched what can only be described as one of the most magnificent theatre shows I have ever seen in my life.

Boys From The Blackstuff brings Alan Bleasdale’s 1982 TV series to the stage in a phenomenal adaptation by Sherwood writer James Graham.

Produced by Liverpool’s Royal Court in association with Stockroom Productions Ltd, Boys From The Blackstuff focuses on unemployed tarmac layers Chrissie, Loggo, George, Dixie and Yosser in 80s Liverpool, with the story exploring the impact of unemployment and the challenges that the characters face.

Remaining true to the original TV series, the story is told over two and half hours by a cast who deliver outstanding performances throughout. Every scene was followed by applause from the audience, along with a standing ovation at the end, as their emotive performances touched each and every person in the room.

Andrew Schofield is incredible as former dockworker George, who the characters regularly ask for advice. Balancing nostalgic tales with witty one-liners, you instantly warm to George and like the characters, feeling you had known him all your life - making his story and character arc even more devastating for the audience in act two.

Accompanied by beautiful harmonies from the cast, Schofield’s song in act one following the death of George’s son Snowy also left me (and many in the audience) in tears. He is truly one of the greatest actors I have ever seen.

Meanwhile, Barry Sloane as Yosser Hughes is a masterclass in acting. Switching between laughter to sudden rage in an instant, his performance captures your attention in every scene. One of his most powerful moments is during a fight scene near the end of act two, with Sloane’s physicality conveying Yozzer’s anger and despair in a slow motion moment superbly choreographed by movement director Rachael Nanyonjo.

Lauren O’Neil and Nathan McMullen also give stand out performances as Angie and Chrissie, particularly in act two, as Angie begs Chrissie to take a job that he has been offered. Their dialogue is performed with such intense emotion through Lauren and Nathan’s vocal tones and facial expressions, in this brilliantly acted and moving scene.

Joining them is the talented George Caple, who is fantastic as Snowy and Dixie’s son, while showcasing excellent guitar playing in act two as an aspiring musician. Meanwhile, the use of flying effects and Caple moving in slow motion during Snowy’s accident effectively convey this moment to the audience.

The entire cast in Boys From The Blackstuff is outstanding, with Aron Julius and Mark Womack delighting the audience as Loggo and Dixie respectively, while Helen Carter, Dominic Carter and Oliver Mawdsley deliver brilliant performances as multiple characters throughout.

Meanwhile, the use of video screens by Audio Visual Designer Jamie Jenkin and an incredible shipyard themed set by Amy Jane Cook that seamlessly moves the story from building sites, to the docks and Chrissie’s living room, combine to move the story along at a quick pace and takes the audience into the lives of the characters.

A powerful, poignant masterpiece, Boys From The Blackstuff is the must-see show of the year.

Boys From The Blackstuff is at Liverpool's Royal Court until 28 October.

Photo Credit: Jason Roberts

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