Popular play makes return to city
By Ron Ellis
Council Depot Blues by Dave Kirby
Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool
I FIRST saw Andrew Schofield singing in 1984 in a musical Cavern of Dreams at the Liverpool Playhouse, based on Spencer Leigh’s book on Merseybeat, and again, four years later, at the same venue playing Gene Vincent in Be Bop a Lula, the story of the ill-fated tour with Eddie Cochran.
Drew looked every bit a genuine rock ‘n’ roll star rather than an actor playing one, unlike Roy Brandon who was a musician who moved into acting, in this instance as Jo Jo, a dustman of the gay persuasion.
In the Seventies, Roy played sax in a Merseybeat group that I used to manage called Bilbo Baggins Band and having them both onstage together, along with M.D. Howard Grey on piano, Phil Hearne on harmonica, and Jake Abraham on guitar and vocals, this could well have been a night at a blues club in the Deep South.
Throughout the play, we were treated to several familiar blues and jazz-rock songs with appropriate new lyrics to reflect the plot and, for me, they were the best part of the show.
Council Depot Blues is an archetypal Scouse comedy, so well-loved that this was its third outing at the Royal Court since the master of the genre, Dave Kirby, first wrote it ten years ago.
Dave was writing from experience as an ex-council worker himself and one can imagine the job is pretty much the same today, the humour coming to countenance the thankless tasks in squalid surroundings that made up an average day’s work.
The incomparable Lindzi Germain had a cameo role as a drunken neighbour and one of the comedy highlights was her attempt at seducing the stocky foreman (Paul Broughton).
Completing the cast was James Nelson-Joyce as Shorty, a drug-ridden young rap artist.
After a while, the despair of their lives began to pall, despite the humour. Yet there was pathos in the show too. On the day he retires, Stan is crying. He might have hated the job but the depot has been his life and, without the camaraderie of his workmates, pension or no pension, he is lost.
“Money means nothing,” he cries, “when you’re old.”
Cue for a song, the audience clap along and the evening ends on a high.
Star rating: 6 out of 10. Great blues music.
Council Depot Blues runs until March 24