Written by John Dillon
Vauxy Theatre company
Unity Theatre (17th - 19th April 2008)
So we're well into 2008 now, and Liverpool people are officially living in the European Capital Of Culture. It's supposed to be all glitz and glamour, though anyone who's walked through the city, and especially beyond the centre, knows that it's anything but. A play presenting the reality behind the banners therefore has to do more than present us with what is already staring us in the face.
Some People followed an evening in the life of three people from Liverpool's street-bound underclass, as they try to keep warm, get fed, and while away the endless hours. Irish intellectual Danny (Michael Christopher) eloquently pronounced on poetry and the inequities of life. Frazer (Danny Williamson) was bigoted and belligerent, but had a perfectly functioning bullshit detector. Marie (Laura Holden) was a drug addicted prostitute who brings some meagre comfort (and stolen supplies) to her two friends.
There is a lot to recommend this play. All three actors performed superbly, and were completely convincing, at least as far as the script would allow. And there were plenty of darkly humorous laughs to be had, often when Frazer verbally punctured either Danny's sentimentality or society's hypocrisy with his biting wit. But for a play that was nearly two and a half hours long, it had very little of any value to say about people existing on the very edge of society.
This quickly became apparent after the interval, when the trio took turns to tell their life stories. In each case, there was a yawning gap between a traumatic but isolated event in the character's personal history, and the fact of their homelessness. Frazer's wife had died, Danny had been sexually assaulted by a priest at the age of nine, and Marie's baby had been taken off her when she was fourteen. Sure, all these could be links in the chain, but they couldn't be the chain itself, or even the main part of it.
Similarly, apart from the accents and the distant celebratory fireworks, there was nothing to suggest that this was Liverpool in the here and now. It is a place where there are thousands of newly built flats lying empty, where people are getting thrown out of their homes to make way for the wealthy, and where poverty and a lack of social housing has created a housing list twenty thousand names long. Not to even allude to this is a glaring omission in a play about homelessness, and one that helps to trap us in the current unhappy circumstances.
Outside the theatre, a woman explained that she had been homeless, and that she had found the production cathartic. That's great for her, but it doesn't put a roof over anyone's head.