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Tell Me How It Ends | Liverpool Everyman

Liverpool Everyman theatre consistently champions new and emerging writers and currently playing at the venue is Tell Me How It Ends, which is written by Tasha Dowd, one of the city’s brightest emerging talents. Dowd won the Homotopia Writing Prize and with this being her debut play, brings much anticipation.

Tell Me How It Ends focuses on the AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s and is set in and amongst Liverpool with an abundance of queer and scouse references throughout. The pre-dominately queer based story focuses on Aster, one of the many like minded lesbians who reaches out to the gay community as the crisis unfolds. She finds herself at the bottom of Marc’s bed who is less than impressed with her presence. However, their friendship blossoms into something quite beautiful and a special kind of bond is formed.

Dowd, at just 22 years old, has written a play beyond her years that puts queer lives into the spotlight, one would have assumed they had first hand experience, which goes to show how much thorough research has gone into the piece. Although stories about the AIDS epidemic have of course been done before, this piece of theatre focuses more on the relationship of the characters rather than the dramatisation of the time itself. Telling the story of two queer lives and how they connect, whilst considering their vast differences and advocating for the joy of living. Tell Me How It Ends deals with themes that are still relevant today, but perhaps live in the shadows of other successful pieces set around the same time.

The set design (Katie Scott) is simple but dressed well with several contrasting rooms on stage next to one another joined by stairs. We journey from hospital beds to nightclub raves all within the compact setting, which works well. Posters of LGBT icons such as Prince, George Michael and Whitney Houston adorn the space which is reminiscent of that time. The compact nature of each of these sets gives an idea into how Aster’s life at this time revolved around Marc and dedicating her life to helping others.

Emmy Stonelake’s portrayal of Aster is undoubtedly the strongest aspect of the show. With an endearing thick Welsh accent, the character is immediately recognisable and relatable. Stonelake delivers a powerfully emotive yet comedic take on the character. With her natural stage presence shining throughout, she proves in the final monologue of the piece that she has more than enough tools in her belt.

The heart wrenching final moments detail the struggle the character has been through and their apparent lack of hope for the future, which is slowly becoming a reality as the government makes scapegoats of a community needing support more than ever. Luke Sookdeo’s performance as Marc is seen through the eyes of Aster and his struggle to come to terms with his diagnosis. Sookdeo is overshadowed by the bundle of energy that is Stonelake, but provides a truthful account of how those individuals would have been feeling. His performance supports Stonelake on her journey but there are opportunities to allow his character to develop further.

The piece is enjoyable and educates all of us on such an important piece of queer history. Raising awareness about how HIV & AIDS treatment has progressed is vital but the fight is not over. Whilst we all know ultimately how history played out, Tell Me How It Ends is perhaps just the beginning for this talented writer.

⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3*)

Gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Andrew AB Photography


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