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Review: The Royal at Royal Court Liverpool ****1/2

Hours before The Royal’s opening night last week, the Royal Court was still something of a building site – in fact, peek behind the scenes and some of it still is.

It’s particularly apt given that for much of the evening, designer Mark Walters’ brilliant set looks much like a chaotic building site itself. But let’s hope the real-life dust, debris and heavy lifting gear remains firmly off stage.

The Royal was one of the runaway hits of last year’s programme, and it’s return - in all its glorious rudery and Towering Inferno-style tongue-in-cheek drama – is being rewarded with sell-out audiences.

And given that currently the real new Royal hospital is due to be completed by summer 2018, I reckon this Royal probably has at least one more timely run too.

The original cast also returns, along with director Cal McCrystal, conducting the carefully-choreographed mayhem and crack comic delivery before he heads for London’s Coliseum where he’s due to direct the ENO in a new production of Iolanthe next spring.

What G&S would make of the Royal’s G&S (that’s Germain and Simms) one can only imagine, but I’d love to see the Liverpool actresses/writers' version of a patter song.

The Royal - images by Zanto Digital

It’s the final day of the old Royal Liverpool Hospital, and everyone has moved out, except for a few disparate souls in ward 8X.

Sweet-natured but rather dim Flo (Angela Simms) is nursing the elderly Mrs Llewellyn (a supine Philip Heseltine who must be black-and-blue by the end of each evening) through her twilight hours, while empathy-free mortician Mo (Lynn Francis) hovers in the background.

Lindzi Germain’s roaring Teresa on tea is on hand to dispense cuppas and knock-off lingerie, while Alan Stocks is a haplessly irascible patient in gown and surgical stockings.

Add in Danny O’Brien’s oiled up builder (a knowing amalgam of all those slo-mo drink/chocolate/aftershave ads aimed at panting women), a wrecking ball, explosions, a lot of bare bottoms and a brilliant visual gag with a defibrillator, and it really is one the funniest things you’ll see on stage this year.

And don’t worry if you’re laughing so much you have a turn – last night most of Aintree’s A&E department appeared to be in the circle.

It gets a bit too shouty too early on in proceedings, meaning when the drama really starts to unfold we're already at a Spinal Tap 11 volume wise.

But there's so much going on, and so much to enjoy, that's a small quibble in what is a royally funny night out.

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