Cut To The Chase productions gritty and thought provoking play Tony Teardrop has enjoyed its stage premiere within the setting of Liverpool’s St Luke’s ‘Bombed Out’ Church. During the longest winter in recent memory we sent along reviewer Stephanie Harrison to brave the sub zero temperatures.
I arrived at the Bombed Out Church on Tuesday at 8pm – in -3°C temperatures with snow on the ground. I was there to see “Tony Teardrop” written by Esther Wilson and directed by Jen Heyes. I had my reservations about how much I could “enjoy” a performance when I was freezing cold – but I was blown away. Cut To The Chase Productions has produced a heart-wrenching, comic and poignant play that was beautifully complimented by the cold weather.
The play is based on true stories of homelessness in Manchester and was so beautifully written. Esther takes us on a journey through a “wet house” for homeless alcoholics and focuses on Tony Teardrop and his everyday struggles with addiction, authority and the meaning of existence.
It sounds bleak and heavy but it was anything but that with Neil Bell playing a blinder as Tony – a cross between Frank Gallagher from Shameless and Shakespeare himself. The combination of humour, poetry and foul language really worked to build empathy and admiration for him – there were moments that you forgot he was an actor. Really impressive stuff!
Another mention must go to Brian Dodd, who plays the character Ken – for a brilliant partnership with Neil Bell as two unlikely friends at the wet house. His excellent comic timing and understated play was the perfect contrast to Tony. His dancing was hilarious!
Also included was a promising performance from Robert Schofield as Billy, the troubled teen who finds himself at the wet house in the strange company of Tony and Ken. Schofield really showed in his performance the development from an untrusting lad to someone who finally feels at home.
One of the most impressive things about “Tony Teardrop” is how Myriddin Wannell (designer) and Phil Saunders (Lighting Design) have transformed the Bombed Out Church from an epic space to an intimate rubbish tip. The design was so clever that you forgot its existence as you watched the story unfold.
The photography from Lee Jeffries that features throughout the production is stunning and will feature in an exhibition at a later date. Haunting images of the homeless that are beautiful and horrifying at the same time. I would recommend checking it out!
So as I got into my own warm bed at home, I couldn’t help but think about Tony, Ken, Billy and all the other homeless people out in the freezing temperatures and I felt really sorry – but what’s wonderful about Tony Teardrop is that instead of just feeling sorry, I also smiled.
5/5 – Definitely worth a watch!
Tony Teardrop runs until 6 April
Liverpool Daily Post