Show was 'the best comedy I have seen in years'
By Ron Ellis
The Miracle Of Great Homer Street
Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool
YOU only have to hear the opening strains of You’ll Never Walk Alone and what comes to mind? Forget Carousel. Think Anfield. That song has become an icon of the city of Liverpool thanks to Liverpool F.C.
Well, The Miracle of Great Homer Street has every chance of achieving that same legendary status. A comedy in true Scouse tradition. But not the naughty farce relying on belly laughs, rather a laugh-a-minute story with a poignant message and an ending which left the audience hushed before the final hilarious finale got the laughter going again.
Written by Gerry Linford, the play came second in the 2017 Liverpool Hope Playwrighting Prize where two of the judges were Les Dennis and the Royal Court executive producer, Kevin Fearon, who both immediately recognised what a hit it would be with audiences.
It is 1978, the year of the World Cup. Les plays Catholic priest, Father Aherne, who is offered a home with the family of one of his parishioners, the staunch Catholic, Marion (finely observed by Catherine Rice), while work is done on his manse, to the displeasure of her out-of-work husband, Terry (another masterful performance by Andrew Schofield).
Father Aherne has a hotline to a 15th Century Argentinian priest with a heavy Scouse accent, St. Cajetan, played by Jake Abraham, who gets some of the best laughs of the night. Through his divine powers, he is able to give Father Aherne the results of the World Cup matches in advance and, who better to put bets on for him but Terry, who is more interested in football than the church. Soon the winnings start mounting up but is money the answer to all their prayers?
There are fine debuts for Katie King, as their pink-haired daughter, Bella, and Bobby Schofield (Andrew’s son in real life), as her new boyfriend, Jamie, singer in a punk rock band. An erudite version of Sid Vicious.
The period feel is perfectly captured by the well-designed Seventies set and highlighted through references to several local faces and places of the time, coupled with songs of the era.
A true feelgood show, that had the audience on their feet cheering at the end, and one that will stand the test of time. If you haven’t seen it, book now. It runs until June 30.
Star rating: 9 out of 10. The best comedy I have seen for years. A superb piece of theatre.