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Haunted Scouse | Liverpool Royal Court

Written by Gerry Linford and directed by Emma Bird, Haunted Scouse is a heartfelt and bittersweet comedic play that takes you through the emotions. The story centres around Charlie Moon (Michael Starke) as he visits his widow Molly Moon (Lynn Francis) around the anniversary of his death. Both characters are on a journey to move on, Molly to move past the guilt and sadness revolved around losing her beloved husband, and Charlie stuck in limbo waiting to move to the afterlife.


Linford’s script has a harmonious blend of humour alongside the more emotive conversations, and our leads Francis and Starke have an undeniable chemistry together on stage, consolidated by the fact that they are married in real life. This makes the subject matter of the play even more poignant and raw. Although the first act’s pace seems significantly slower, with the comedic moments leaning more towards pantomime style humour and one too many fart jokes, act two is where the show really starts to find its feet.


Veterans to Liverpool stages and clearly fan favourites to Liverpool audiences, both Starke and Francis receive an incredible response from the audience from just walking onto the stage. Starke immediately has the audience in the palm of his hands as they lap up his silly sense of humour, full to the brim of Scouse humour and local jokes. Francis perfectly leans into the hysterical widower, firmly convinced that she is somehow responsible for the death of her husband. Francis does an incredible job of portraying the grief and hardships of losing a loved one.

 Helen Carter gives a standout performance as Aunty Peggy, who guides Charlie through the process of moving onto the afterlife. Carter demonstrates impressive vocals as she sings a catalogue of 60s icons during scene transitions such as Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, and Cilla Black. Julie Glover does a good job of character work whilst playing Molly’s eccentric friend, and in a hilarious moment of being possessed by Charlie, she demonstrates her versatility in acting. Paul Duckworth plays sleazy next door neighbour Gordon, who has bad intentions with Molly. Whilst trying to appear charming and irresistible to Molly, Duckworth does a great job of doing the complete opposite with his character, and it’s clear that his character gets under the skin of audience members.


The staging (Ellie Light) is stagnant through the duration of the show as we are transported to the Moons’ living room. Picture frames adorn the living room walls to signify the love that was once shared between the married couple. An Alexa device is used to play music and is hilariously used in some relatable comedy. A comedy play involving the afterlife wouldn’t be complete without some scenic trickery, with photo frames falling off mantlepiece and chairs moving, and this was a fun element to witness taking place.


There are some lovely moments of video projection that truly bring raw emotion to the piece (Jamie Jenkin), with a montage of photographs of the married couple projected onto the living room walls during a tender conversation. Lighting design (Ian Scott) and sound design (Kate Harvey) lends a hand to creating atmosphere during the moments of 'paranormal activity' as well as warm lighting being used for the living room, in contrasts with dark pinks and blues to enhance the atmospheric feel.


Alongside being able to enjoy a night at the theatre, the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool offers a dining experience where you are served a meal at your table before the show starts. This is highly recommended as there was a lovely atmosphere with gorgeous food, and this elevated the whole experience at this theatre.


Haunted Scouse is a play that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but still manages to pack a lot of heart into a production that is relatable and real to many. Haunted Scouse plays at Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool until 9th March, for more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.



AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Jason Roberts


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