From Page to Stage: How The Royal Got To The Liverpool Royal Court!

Posted on 9 June 2016
By Chris High
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They may have years of collective wealth of Liverpool Royal Court Theatre experience behind them, but Lynn Francis, Lindzi Germaine and Angela Simms are extra excited about being in The Royal at The Royal because this is the first time that they’ve written a play together. The best news is though that the trio seem to have had as much fun writing the comedy as they are about to starring in it.

“The idea came about after I said to Kevin [Fearon], when I was bit tiddly and complaining, that some of the plays coming up were all full of men,” Lindzi explained during rehearsals. “I actually think he was trying to get rid of me when he said ‘if you’re that bothered go and write your own,’ so I said, ‘alright then, I will!’

“It was around about that time that my mum broke her leg and me and my dad would spend visiting hours at The Royal Hospital, listening to some of the funniest stories coming from the patients, visitors and staff. So it was actually my dad who suggested I write a play about the place, especially as it was about to be refurbished and that’s when I got the idea of making about the last group in the hospital before bits of it were demolished.

“I went to Kevin again with the synopsis and he initially gave me two years to write it. He then came to me last Christmas and said we have this slot in June which I grabbed, but under the condition that I had help writing it because there was no way I could write it all on my own. That’s when I got in touch with my two best mates, Lynn and Angela, to help.”

“We wrote the play together in Angela’s kitchen,” Lindzi continues, “and we each had loads of ideas about what each character could do to make things even funnier and more outrageous. Things just developed from there and we had such a great laugh”

“We knew where we were in a particular scene, but what really worked was us saying the lines as the characters … all be it in my kitchen, not in a rehearsal room,” Angela laughed. “What was brilliant about this though was we had total freedom to take them wherever we wanted. It also helped that we know each other’s strengths and we know what The Royal Court audiences like. We’re normally given a script and add things as we go along, but this was done the other way round and it’s worked really well.”

Lynn may be new to writing, but both Lindzi and Angela have some experience in the bank. “I’ve written stand up before, but I don’t do that anymore because as it’s my own work, the thought of it actually makes me feel physically sick with nerves,” Lindzi said, “so God help me on opening night with this then!”

“I’ve done some script work for radio before,” Angela added. “Her name was Beverly Bog and she was a professional stalker, which was great fun. This time though I play Florence, a nurse who is also a hopeless romantic and fantastically naïve. She’s very innocent and a sort of Disney Princess with a few twists to her character as well.”

Lindzi plays Theresa, the Mother Hen of the team. “She’s the ward tea lady and what she keeps on her trolley is far more than a pack of digestives and some PG Tips. She’s a sort of Del Boy character and holds everybody together when things get a bit tough.”

Of all the characters, though, it is Lynn’s that has changed most. “Mo from the Morgue was a character we started off with who was a lot darker and a lot more sinister than the one you are going to see. Now the only way I can really describe her as being is, ahem, slutty! She’s had a bit of a tough time with men in the past, so now she’s out to enjoy herself but in a nice way.”

The Royal also stars Phil Heseltine, Alan Stocks and Danny O’Brien, with the whole thing being directed by Cal McCrystal. “I’d never worked with Cal before and I found it pretty hard at first because he stripped the script right back and tore it apart,” Lindzi said. “I honestly went home in tears some nights because the script was my baby, but it was Angela who kept saying it would be fine as she’d worked with Cal on Canoeing for Beginners, and, d’you know what, it was.

“I realise now that was what he had to do and what Cal does really well is recognise that it very often isn’t what you say, but how you say it that gets the biggest laugh. It’s also great that he’s so responsive to our opinions as to what will work and what won’t in certain situations in Liverpool.”

With everybody being so familiar with The Royal Court, there really wasn’t anywhere else to stage it. “We know what the theatre and the audiences like, “Angela said, “and we’ve specifically written it with them in mind. There is very definitely a place for popular theatre and there isn’t anywhere better than The Royal Court. Popular comedy theatre might not change the world but it will definitely change somebody’s night if they can go out and have a few drinks, a bloody good laugh and some fun.”

“What you can expect above all else,” Lynn said, “is tears of all different kinds. There’s also a few places where you’ll say ‘I’ve never seen that done in a theatre before’; there are quite a few shocks along the way.”

“I think the audience can also expect to see characters that they love and recognise,” Lindzi added. “It’s about three very different Scouse girls who are mates and I want the women in the audience to go, ‘that’s so-and-so, that’s so-and-so and that’s me’ … and then the men in the audince to agree with them. I was nervous excited but now I’m just excited and just hope people enjoy it as much as we’ve loved putting it together.”

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