ENTERTAINMENT — 23 May 2014

hopeplace

Hope Place, Everyman, Liverpool

4 stars

IT is quite to imagine any kind of historical synopsis of  a Liverpool family without an Irish connection – so when you sit down and get introduced to the ‘Byrne’ family, you know there will be at least a few traits that are instantly recognisable.

A hard-working, hard-drinking dad, a tough no-nonsense mum who will do what it takes to mind her flock are characteristics that many will ring a bell.

The natural tendency to bury the secrets of troubled times past is also notable until the arrival of Simon (Ciaran Kellgren), who coaxes the family to open up and face their demons.

Eileen O Brien who was interviewed in last week’s Irish World, gives an outstanding performance as ‘Maggie’

The troubled matriarch of the family after the death of ‘Mammy’ she is, along with her siblings, gently forced to face the ghosts of the past and a rich history of family and the city unfold in tandem.

Jack (Joe McGann) is the story-telling brother who flicks life away with a yarn while Eric (Neil Caple) is full of anger. Tricia Kelly as Veronica is the chain smoking sister whose prime interest is monetary.

Hope Place is not a morbid story, but rather full of black humour ( “The missionary box was always full for the priest, even if our bellies were empty”), and a fascinating tale emerges as each family member develops their own version of their past.

A hugely entertaining production, Michael Wynne’s story unwinds around the kitchen table, another familiar setting to Irish families of a certain age, keeping its audience enrapt all the way through.

By Martin Mannering

Hope Place is at The Everyman until May 31. For tickets visit everymanplayhouse.com or call 0151 709 4776.

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