Unsung at The Liverpool Everyman Theatre

Posted on 13 March 2016
By Mythili Rane
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Unsung, playing now at The Liverpool Everyman Theatre, is a compelling story of an unlikely friendship set amidst the Slavery Abolition movement. ‘I am a man,’ says Kwamina, a black slave, to Edward Rushton, a white sailor, and this line sticks with the audience throughout.

Rushton, Liverpool’s very own poet, is brought to life by Joe Shipman, and John Wilson Godard, who plays the older, bitter Rushton tormented by the memories of his time on a journey taken from the Caribbean to Liverpool.

The cries of the black slaves forcibly brought to England are both heard and seen: the haunting image of a black woman who stares unflinchingly as young Rushton cries about: ‘a child suckling on the breasts of his dead mother’, makes a full impact as we begin to feel his anger.

However, the two actors who truly make an impact are Mossop (Denise Armstrong) and Kwamina (Chris Jack). Mossop’s sign language combined with facial movements and truly hilarious interactions with the audience are a feast for the eyes. At one point in the play, when she says emphatically to a dodgy character, the audience actually cheers. Kwamina, on the other hand, wins their hearts in spite of being in the background for most of the play.

Chuck Mike’s rendition of ‘Unsung’ sings beautifully to your soul and is a stunning homage paid by Liverpool to one of its own. By assimilating the blind and deaf into a play essentially about a blind poet, the play truly ‘walks the walk’ and Unsung is a poignant and emotive play sure to make those who see it appreciate the history of the city afresh.

March 9 – March 12, 2016
The Everyman Theatre, Liverpool
Cast: Andrew Whitehead, Chris Jack, Denise Armstrong, Jane Hogarth, Joe Shipman, John Wilson, Rachel Austin,Liam Tobin
Writers: James Quinn and John Graham Davies
Director: Chuck Mike
Designer: Kate Unwin
Original Soundscape: Patrick Dineen
Visual Design: John Horabin
PR Rating: ***