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Review: Deathly Confessions at Livepool Bombed Out Church ***1/2

While Oliver Dowden continues to dither over his aptly named Operation Sleeping Beauty, an increasing number of theatre makers are taking matters into their own hands to bring live performance back to the people.

And if the sell-out audience for Deathly Confessions is any measure, the demand is certainly there.

The quartet of tragi-comedies from Break a Leg Productions forms part of the Liverpool Theatre Festival, brainchild of city producer Bill Elms, which is being staged in the magical surroundings of the Bombed Out Church and during a week of balmy Indian summer which surely indicates the weather gods are theatre fans.

It was St Luke however who was invoked in an energetic opening monologue from Thomas Galashan, playing a haunted ex-soldier whose search for a bit of wartime comfort and connection sparked an incendiary reaction that had terrible consequences.

The four solo tales (from writers Emma Culshaw and David Paul) are distinct from one another but share a common thread of guilt. Under Emma Vaudrey's sympathetic direction they also bled into each other visually as the storytelling baton was passed from one actor to the next.

Above: Liverpool Theatre Festival

Top: James Templeton as Oscar in Deathly Confessions. Photos by David Munn

From wartime actions they moved to modern day Liverpool where Jade (Samantha Alton) recalled her shared life with flamboyant, fearless best friend Jamie through five gifts given from beyond the grave.

James Templeton gave a gleeful turn as a self-absorbed luvvie who converts his central role in the death of a theatre critic into a whiny graveside pity party, before crowning his inglorious display of egocentricity by promising to “channel the guilt in to my performance”.

His monologue, as with the evening’s other solo vignettes, was populated with plenty of keen laugh-out-loud lines but could have benefitted from a bit of pruning. Sometimes less is more.

And the evening concluded with Crissy Rock’s pyjama-wearing, duster-wielding Wendy, finally emerging from the shadow of her ‘perfect’ twin, albeit under extreme circumstances.

If occasionally it felt a little awkward, Rock also delivered an explosively memorable moment of drama where grief hit – briefly and powerfully.

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