Alexandra Dinning

Theatre Review: LUDS presents ‘Our Day Out’

LUDS’s final spring play of 2018 comes from one of Merseyside’s own, Willy Russell. Originally a television play, Our Day Out follows a coach trip to Conwy Castle made by the ‘Progress Class’ from a Liverpool school, a remedial class for illiterate children. Chaos, mishaps and revelations are all in good supply as the day unfolds, and the class starts to understand a life outside Liverpool.

Although only on its second on-stage run through, nobody’s enthusiasm seemed dimmed by one or two stop-starts as the finishing touches were put in place. Pre-opening night teething problems did not distract from the staging- which thanks to the work of stage managers Harry Norton and Izzy Duffy managed to be imaginative, without being distracting.

In terms of characters, there was a delicate balance to be had throughout; group scenes had to maintain the right level of boisterous classroom noise, and one to ones put the spotlight on an emotional resonance that revealed the vulnerabilities of not only troubled students but also straight-laced teachers. Credit must go to director Kahrie Carter (and assistant director, David Tovey) for making such a challenging setup not just cohesive, but very watchable.

There was a clear chemistry between all the cast, who bounced off each other- sometimes literally- and created believable dynamics, probably not a million miles away from things most people have witnessed or experienced in their schooldays, remedial class or not. Perhaps the linchpin of the entire production comes in the form of two of the teachers- liberal class leader Mrs Kay and her uptight counterpart Mr Briggs- who clash in their approach to the field trip (and teaching philosophy in general). Played by Aidan Bungey and Omar Hussein respectively, each gave a convincing foil to their opposite number and gave performances that helped much of the rest of the cast to develop their characters in relation to them.

Perhaps one of the most impressive feats of the production was seeing even the least scouse of actors eagerly throwing themselves into their regional accent. However, Our Day Out is not only indebted to the great city of Liverpool in this way, but also in its politics.The ultimate hard-hitting lessons of the play, which rails against the life chances given to disadvantaged children, are both all too relevant today and can occasionally seem somewhat heavy-handed, especially when using the pupils as mouthpieces. However, this is to no discredit to the cast and crew, who bring together a production that is full of charm and mostly has a lightness of touch that makes it worthwhile viewing.

This is one of your final chances to see LUDS’s finest in action this year. Our Day Out runs on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of May from the Stanley Theatre, with doors at 7pm for a 7:30pm start. Tickets are £3-£6 and can be found on the Guild website.

 

All image credits to Ben Gibson.

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