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Little Scouse on the Prairie (Liverpool)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Crude, rude, bawdy and lewd – that’s the essence of the Royal Court’s Christmas offering in Little Scouse on the Prairie – but if you want a good belly laugh then this is the show to see.

Written by Fred Lawless who brought us the hit Scouse Pacific last year, the same cast has returned to deliver a fine show that includes beautifully choreographed routines, brilliant pop songs with irreverent yet pertinent lines, and a great deal of bawdy humour. The gags come thick and fast and if you don’t listen closely you could easily miss a gem, cheekily slotted in. Some are very near the knuckle!

The tale is simple, a family is running St Nick’s church social club that has been secretly sold by the priest (Alan Stocks) to another company – but he has not been paying the rent. On a wild-west fancy dress social night, the big bad bailiff (Paul Duckworth) enters to re-possess the premises. They then discuss how to raise the money.

A superlambanana loaded with a leather saddle has been brought into the bar as a ‘bucking bronco’ on which daughter Donna Marie (Rachel Rae) dressed as Pocahontas later falls asleep. After what has been a promising if slow start, the show then morphs into a dream sequence and really takes off.

We are transported to the Wild West with the same bar, now decked out as a saloon, with the same characters dolled up in western gear. The bailiff enters as bad man Bart belting out Michael Jackson’s ‘I’m Bad’ and the mother, Linzi Germain, is a big mamma character with a big voice and married to the weedy barman (Andrew Schofield). The priest, for some reason is a Chinaman called Foo King, which gives you an idea of the essence of this show.

When they see Pocahontas they question why an Indian is in their bar – she says she is from Liverpool, and her colour is just her ‘scouse tan’. There are many local references in Little Scouse, which bring heaving laughs from the audience. Even the Wild West town is set in Hale Wood. And Pocahontas’real life ‘husband’ (Stephen Fletcher) plays his part as traveller Walt – of Walt Disney fame – with many ‘quick on the draw’ gags.

One of the funniest scenes sees Schofield – ex-gunslinger ‘Cisco Kid, running down the stairs in his long johns trying his best not to show too much in this close-fitting garment, to face up to big had Bart, coming to the rescue of Walt, who has been designated Sheriff.

Spicing up the fun are the four can-can dancers from ‘Gay Paree’ hired to put some business back into the bar since Bart scared away the townsfolk. The four svelte girls, Soei Cozens, Niamh Fitzgerald, Kay Staunton and Sarah Walker do a sterling job, with can-can routines bringing even more colour to the show. The dads should be pleased!

It all ends happily with Donna Marie waking up to a surprise first anniversary party, put on by her husband Dick (Fletcher) who comes down from the rafters dressed as Elvis, singing his heart out. Their family’s financial worries are then over when they find Bad Bart’s gold hidden under the floor boards. And the bar is not repossessed when the bailiff tastes their home brew and does a deal to have it made by his brewer brother.

There is a neat ending when Dick reveals he is to take Donna Marie to Disneyland as an anniversary treat. But the real treat here is the show itself. A well-written fun-filled night, with plenty of colour, music and gags. All the cast are stars and Lawless has another hit on his hands!

-Jeanette Smith


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