REVIEW: You’ll Never Walk Alone @ Royal Court 04/10/11

youll-never-walk-alone-royalcourtWith the King back on his throne and a Merseyside Derby win still fresh in the memory there could not have been a better time to watch a play about the glorious history of Liverpool Football Club. Rich Denton joined some of the great players of the past and present at Liverpool’s Royal Court for the latest work of life long red Nicky Allt. 

There are very few football clubs that have enough history, stories and entertainment to provide content for a stage play. Yet Liverpool FC has all of these in abundance; the tales, the songs, the people. The magic highs, the tragic lows and Nicky Allt’s ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone – The Legend of Liverpool FC’ attempts to tell the story from the club’s formation in 1892 through to the present day.

The build up to the show’s start is as close to a match day as it could be inside the Art Deco style theatre. Pre match pies, the deep tones of George filtering through the sound system, classic match day tunes and on the screen at the back of the stage the players warm up in front of The Kop which fills up in real time as kick off approaches.

The cast centres around the family of Grandad (Scouser) Tommy whose death leads them to discuss the past 120 years or so of his beloved Red Men. Grandson Tommy (Mark Moraghan), Pauline (Pauline Daniels), Tia “This Is Anfield” (Jamie Hampson), the hilarious Kenny (Lenny Wood) and Gerry (Anthony Watson) take us through the key moments that have made LFC what it is today.

Soundtracked by a mixture of football chants and well known songs from Liverpool musicians, we are taken back to the formation of the club, through the wars and to the point when everything changed… the arrival of Bill Shankly. The vibrant 60’s brought the first Wembley success and the foundations were laid for the most successful club in the game.

There are of course the tragedies of Heysel and Hillsborough which are covered respectfully, none more so than the monologue of a mother whose son did not return from Sheffield in April 1989.

Post Hillsborough we are reminded of the unique rivalry between Liverpool and Everton and of how the city comes together in times of need. Allt has used the play to remind supporters of this special bond and how it has become strained at derby games in recent years. A point well made.

The story skips through at pace following the resignation of Kenny Dalglish in 1991 and the lean spell of trophies that followed until the Houllier treble and of course the miracle of Istanbul. The show closes out in the only way it can with the audience on its feet singing a rousing rendition of the club anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’

A must for all Reds’ fans and uncomfortable viewing for the Blues. Wayne Rooney and Gary Neville should avoid the area at all costs

You’ll Never Walk Alone – The Legend of Liverpool FC runs until October 29th

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