With over 100,000 people having seen it thus far, Dave Kirby and Nicky Allt's Scouse comedy Brick Up the Mersey Tunnels is back now for the fourth time in as many years.
Set in Liverpool and the Wirral, Brick Up tells the story of three working class Liverpudlian lads who are fed up with being looked down upon by the snobs from the Wirral. Eventually, they take the law into their own hands and the Kingsway Three are born.
There are many name checks to famous Scousers in the show, and after a while it does start to get a bit dull. Saying that, there is one Anne Robinson joke which is definitely on the money.
A lot of the humour in the play can be very crude - the play is no better or worse as a result, but it does get the audience going. But at times it does overstep the mark and becomes offensive, enforcing as opposed to challenging prejudices. Many people in the audience I am sure would understand that the jokes are tongue in cheek, but for others, one fears they firmly back up their opinions on minority groups.
Ironically, some of the best humour in the show is when the jokes aren’t offensive. A joke about sun tans and a toaster had the audience in stitches. It just proves that the humour doesn’t need to be offensive and crass to get the audience roaring.
The acting on the whole by the majority of the cast is strong. Andrew Schofield in particular brings the house down, and shows why he is the Liverpool legend that he is. Eithne Browne also stands out as “Wirralian” Ann Twacky, an ex-Scouser who thinks she’s moved up in the world a la Hyacinth Bucket. But one of the problems with the play is that the actors don’t look like they’re being stretched. When they’re singing, it seems that the voices are better than the words they’re singing, which generally shows that the substance of the show isn’t actually all that.
This play will always be welcomed by Liverpool audiences, and there is definitely an appeal. It's just a shame, however, that in an era where we are trying to welcome people into the city, there are plays being put on which back up stereotypes that the city is negative and isolated – stereotypes which aren’t necessarily true.
- David Jack