by Daniel Matthew.
Liverpool Playhouse Studio Williamson Square L1 1EL To 16 November 2013.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm except 6 Nov 5.30pm Mat 7, 13 Nov 1.30pm Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 40min One interval.
TICKETS: 0151 709 4776.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 2 November.
Warm-hearted people marooned on the cold sea-front of modern life.
Lovely as it will be to welcome the rebuilt Everyman Theatre, its closure has revived Liverpool Playhouse Studio as an occasional birthplace for new plays. While it hasn’t the scope the Everyman provides new writers, there are times – as with Daniel Matthew’s Scrappers – where this tucked-away space is apt.
Scrappers hovers on a border between reality and metaphor which gives it a warm feeling but which might seem false if writ larger. And the Studio’s comparative remoteness – within the Playhouse it’s next stop the roof – suits the Fleetwood setting, desolate now the fishing industry’s gone and even the scrap business Ken’s trying to keep alive with his keen but dependent young workers Morse and Ryan, struggles.
As bulldozers encroach, laying a marina which will bring people with money to spend, the corrugated fencing with its heavy gate provides a fortress, Ken’s office an inner sanctum where he wrestles to pay next month’s rent and hold his ground.
Bright young Jodie’s arrival seems unlikely – and remains so if we continue thinking about it, up to the ambiguous act at her departure, a gesture of treachery or fond remembrance. Though, as she changes from bright night-club clothing to something more practical, her background in the territory gives a kind of explanation for her arrival.
There’s little outward action until the attack of the new finally arrives, and even that’s followed by a reflective conclusion. But two things make Scrappers involving, helping it triumph.
There’s a constant sense of activity. Jodie gains by her time here, and gives both Morse, diffident beneath a rough confidence, and the fatally shy young Ryan new belief in themselves, by her own brightness, smiles and cheerfulness.
These three well-judged performances, sympathetic but not sentimental, offset Ged McKenna’s older Ken, optimistic to the last, hanging on to tradition and showing, in a scene which seems destined to end in a sacking, an unwillingness to deliver the fatal blow.
It may be their world of Woody Guthrie has been blown away by a harsher music, but Scrappers, in Matthew Xia’s finely-controlled production, gives them all a particular dignity.
Ryan: David Judge.
Morse: John McGrellis.
Ken: Ged McKenna.
Jodie: Molly Taylor.
Director: Matthew Xia.
Designer: Mari Lotherington.
Lighting: Ciarán Cunningham.
Sound: Sean Pritchard.
Dramaturg: Lindsay Rodden.