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'ERIC'S' THE MUSICAL - Friday Sept 19th 2008 - Everyman Theatre Liverpool

Eric’s (A Musical) 

Synopsis: The play is based around the writer’s true story.

Eric’s gave Mark inspiration and courage to be his own person, with echoes of memories and an evocation of the time. The play is based on two periods in Mark’s life both as a 17 year old and then as a 37 year old when he was fighting for his life battling with leukaemia. He spent many a night in Eric’s watching all the bands of the day. 20 years on his dream to be a playwright came to fruition, and here in all its glory is the play he wrote to celebrate Liverpool Capital of Culture. It’s a heart as big as Liverpool!

Eric’s – The opening night of the Musical about the legendary Liverpool Punk club in Matthew St.

The excitement and anticipation building as Me and Vanessa headed for our seats, small theatre great stage set, depicting a dark cellar with a hospital bed centre stage. We were intrigued as to how this could fit into Eric’s?  Settled into our seats Jaki Florek the co author of the new Eric’s book (due for publication Nov) appeared and we swapped flyers, it was great to finally meet her after chatting on-line. 

So with a sell out first night the show began, they rolled into action with a ‘Rocky Horror’ style number all decked out in Nurses & Doctors outfits, singing their hearts out to a Deaf School number ‘What A Way To End It All’ this faded out and became ‘Iggy Pop’s Jacket’. Joe had been hospitalised and diagnosed with a serious illness, hence the hospital bed.

It became apparent who the actors were portraying almost immediately, although in a much blander form than the originals. We recognised Pete Burns, Holly Johnson, and Jayne Casey. The vision of Holly Johnson played by Peter Caulfield was such a striking similarity. He had the voice, the mannerisms & he encapsulated Holly, despite having no shaved head or the words ‘Psycho’ on his skull as Holly did. (At one stage during ’77 we didn’t know Holly’s name so his nickname became Psycho) 

All the young cast had never been around in those days to witness the Eric’s explosion yet they managed to capture some of the essence of those heady days. Portrayed the almost cartoon characters with flair, vibrancy and accuracy, although at times hinted at parody.

Julian Cope with his huggy, kissy, “posh twat” “come on let’s form a band, I’ll buy the biscuits” and Wylie with his over stimulated egotism. I’m sure they weren’t so over the top but then again this is the theatre darling. McCullough was described as wearing “carpet slippers and a cross between Bowie & Lennon on a blind date, Duke McCool”. 

The story revolved around the writer of the Musical characterised by Joe played by Graham Bickley. It took a while to understand that it was intertwined with Joey young played by actor Stephen Fletcher and Joe older. Joe was diagnosed with a terminal illness and required a bone marrow transplant; he reflected back on his times at Eric’s and how the period had changed his life and gave him his fighting spirit. He decided it “wasn’t my time”. 

As a young ‘Joey’ played by Stephen Fletcher he was writing poems and picking his spots in the mirror, working down the local tax office, then at night going down to Eric’s. The local Arty crew hung out there who formed bands such as Echo & the Bunneymen, Mystery Girls, Big In Japan (of course we had a few chorus’s of ‘Big in Japan, big we’re number 1’. Joey was ducking and diving around Matthew Street getting beaten up by locals, “are you one of them punks” despite telling them he wasn’t he was into disco music “still gonna batter ya”. I was amazed there was no mention of the Spitfire boys, as they were the very first punk band in Liverpool, and Paul Rutherford (the singer) as a character. 

We got taken into Joey’s work environment where he was involved in an altercation with his boss, this resulted in a ‘Career Opportunities’ number throwing the boss around in a wonderful dance display. ‘Is it ever gonna knock’??

‘In me Liverpool Ome’ was sang with an emotional appeal, the Eric’s banner appeared at the front of the set.

Classic lines by Wylie “good to meet me”, with a toilet seat hung around his neck, (I remembered him wearing a badge made out of the 1st Spitfire Boys single but not a toilet seat, but anything was possible). He was talking at 100 miles an hour, chatting women up with his quoted lines from literary sources. Yes he did used to chatter a lot, and dart around the dark sweaty venue. 

The dancing & singing were spectacular, fight scenes played with authenticity and dramatic effect, thanks to Kate Walters. 

There was lot’s of northern scouse humour thrown in for good measure, one liners such as from Joey’s dad advising him to stop writing poetry and buy ‘Fiesta’ porn mag  “get on the nest you won’t need to write your poems then”. Joey on asking his mum advice on his outfit “you’d look lovely with an onion”. It sent out a ray of chuckles from the audience. 

Forming bands, The Crucial Three, Julian winces around the stage, encouraging the guys to get together by shouting “Come on I’ll buy the biscuits” the audience erupted into laugher. Wylie was in full flow again, spouting about Mick Jones giving him his guitar, Elvis Costello hit’s the stage singing ‘ What’s So Funny About Peace Love & Understanding’ he ask Joey would he give him badge (which was huge). 

Joe explained Eric’s drove him on…the crew sang about Coming back, Joe said he was going to put his head in the lions mouth, he went for his transplant. 

The final scene ended in a medley sang by all the performers, ‘heart as big as Liverpool’ intertwined with Deaf School’s ‘A Bigger Splash’, then ‘The Final Act’.

Joe’s operation was a success, he had his reverberating spirit to thank for that, and of course Eric’s and that Punk Spirit of yesteryear. 

During a break we chatted to our neighbour about Eric’s – she’d been in a local band and supported orchestral manoeuvres in the dark. She relayed about how she had to drink home made rum to calm her nerves before going on stage, in the small dressing room at Eric’s.(If your reading this let me know the name of your band). Everyone who went to Eric’s has a story to tell! and ours are yet to be told in the Eric's book –  ‘All the best club’s are downstairs, everybody knows that’ out Nov 2008. (http://www.feedbackmagazine.org/)

VANESSA AND ME - OLD ERIC'S PARTNERS IN CRIME

An enjoyable evening, the only criticism I would say was that Eric’s was never this straight forward and ‘normal’ in it’s day it was daring, wild and somewhat intimidating, an exciting place to be a part of. I know we was there amongst the good the bad and the ugly! There were many others who played their part in this scene, a bit like the unknown soldiers.

Reviewed by Mel  20.9.08

Showing until 11th October

 

Many thanks to the following people: 

Writer: Mark Davies Markham (Theatre credits include ‘Taboo’)

Directed by: Jamie Lloyd

Designer: Soutra Gilmour

Cast members:

Character

Actor

Joe

Graham Bickley

Joey

Stephen Fletcher

Karen

Katy Dean

Sally

Rosalie Craig

Pete Wylie

Sam Donovan

Holly Johnson/Ian McCullough

Peter Caulfield

Pete Burns/Elvis Costello

Stuart Ellis

Julian Cope

Oliver Jackson

Colin

Ciaran Kellgren

Roger Eagle/Dr Fisher

Dean Kelly

Will Sergent/Reg

Mark Moraghan

Eileen/ Hilary the Punk milkmaid

Lesley Nicol

Boxhead

James Rigby

Jayne Casey

Iris Roberts

Musical Supervisor: Alan Williams

Lighting: Jon Clark

Sound: Chris Full

Costumes: Jacquie Davies

Choreographer: Ann Yee

Dance Captain: Peter Caulfield

Casting Director: David Grinrod

Fight Director: Kate Walters

Casting Associate: Will Burton

Production Manager: Kal Ross

Company Manager: Paul Sawtell

Stage Manager: Sarah Lewis

Deputy Stage Manager: Roxanne Vella

Assistant Stage Manager: Jo Heffernan

Crew: Howard McCauley

Crew: Marc Williams

Lighting Operator: Andy Webster

Sound Engineer: Ian Davies

Sound Operator: Xenia Bayer

Backline: Paul Bruce

 
The Band:

Laura Bangay – keyboards and Musical Director

Phil James – Guitar

Nathan Welsh – Bass

Aaron Brown - Drums