Actor James McMartin talks Scouse: A Comedy of Terrors

Posted on 19 November 2016
By Chris High
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A comedy which first took to the stage in Liverpool 19 ago has returned for a pre-Christmas run as Scouse: A Comedy Of Terror plays for four weeks this festive season at The Dome, Grand Central, Renshaw Street.

The play written by Andrew Cullen – who has since on to gain acclaim for penning the award winning short story Six Day War – is directed by Margaret Connell for the new Lantern Theatre Productions and the creative team is headed by Jocelyn Meall as designer, which sees the action unfold in a site specific setting. Lantern Theatre Productions have also teamed up with Radio City’s Mission Christmas Cash For Kids, with ticket revenue for the performance on 22nd November going to the cause.

First time around, Scouse: A Comedy of Terrors saw the play star Paul Broughton, Andrew Schofield and Vince Pellegrino. This time, yet more new and established acting take the roles with Peter Washington as Tom; Jackie Jones as Kath; Katie King as Susan; James Ledsham as Ben; Curtis Watt as Clive; Reg Edwards as Macka; Nicola Ferguson as Lisa; Louise Garcia as Tina and Michael Hawkins as Darren. In the original production, James McMartin played Macka.

Some might recall that James played opposite Margi Clarke in Coronation Street for awhile as Tyrone’s dad, Darren. He was also Robbo in Ale House earlier in the year, also staged at The Dome, starring Phil Olivier, Jake Abraham and Lindzi Germain. In Scouse: A Comedy of Terrors this time around, though, he takes on the role of Big Frank and couldn’t be more delighted to be involved again.

“It’s absolutely brilliant to be involved in this project. It’s really refreshing and to be working with a great new cast is just amazing,” James said during a break in rehearsals. “The original cast was brilliant as well, with Drew Schofield, Paul Broughton and Chris Darwin, and it’s Chris’s part I’m playing this time around. I played Macka originally who was just great to play and I’m quite missing him to be honest. That said though, Big Frank is a brilliant role too.”

Scouse: A Comedy of Terrors tells the story of the Liverpool People’s Party and its calls for Liverpool to be recognised as an independent republic by the UN, the EU, NATO and UEFA. But the UK Government objects and sends in the army. The play follows Tom, Kath and their children Susan and Ben through the bid for independence and the battle and tragedy that follows.

“The thing about the play though is that it has a satirical edge to it, so it isn’t your standard Liverpool based comedy. It’s quite political and you have to remember it was written when terrorism was around with the IRA and with the riots and social upheavals taking place all the time. It’s definitely got that cutting edge satire thing to it, amidst all the laughs. It really has stood the test of time and is as relevant today as it was 19 years ago. In fact, with what’s been happening politically recently and the new threats that are about, I’d go as far to say it has even more relevance. It’s a bit more chilling now.”

“With all that being said, though, it is still a comedy. In fact, I’d go as far to say that it’s a bit like watching farcical, slapstick cartoon with a satirical slant to it. Every scene has something funny going on. It really is a laugh-a-minute show. There’s a lot of atmosphere to it now as well, because of the choreography that’s been put into the production this time. Some of the crowd scenes are unbelievably good how they’ve worked them.”

The revolution for Liverpool is supposed to be peaceful and calm and things are going to plan … until Big Frank – James’ character – gets involved. “There’s no getting away from the fact that Big Frank’s a psychopathic gangster,” James laughs. “He’s not shy of people getting in his way being whacked so when he comes on board things start to go more than just a little bit pear shaped, shall we say. Being a bit mad, a bit dark and menacing, he’s fun to play and has some of the funniest lines as well. Last time Chris Darwin played Frank and Chris is about 5’ 4” whereas I’m about 6’ 3” so the dynamic is going to be a bit different. Big Frank’s going to be big in every way imaginable.”

This is also the debut show for Lantern Theatre Productions. “It’s absolutely amazing what Margaret, Michael and Danny and everybody else involved have achieved in what’s been a relatively short space of time. They’ve put their absolute all into the show is there for anyone to see. The production values with the lights, the sets and the costumes they’re just incredible. It’s going to be really, really classy. I really hope the crowds come in because it right up Liverpool’s street this and it really deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.”

The Dome has turned into something of a second home for James in 2016. “It’s a lovely theatre to work in and to watch a show in. I’ve been Magwich from Great Expectations, played Frankenstein’s creature, I was Robbo in Ale House – which was another brilliant, brilliant show to be part of – and I’m about to play Scrooge here at Christmas time, after Scouse: A Comedy of Terrors is over. It’s almost like being in Rep the amount of shows I’ve been in this year, so they’re finding hard to get rid of me!.”

SCOUSE: A COMEDY OF TERRORS is at The Dome, Grand Central, Renshaw Street, from 17 November – 15 December 2016. The show starts at 7.45pm (doors open 6.45pm) and tickets are available from www.lanterntheatreliverpool.co.uk For more information: www.scousetheplay.co.uk


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