Dave Kirby is a writer who certainly knows how to tickle Liverpool’s funny bone, with hits such as Brick Up The Mersey Tunnels and Council Depot Blues on his CV. And the seasonal adult comedy Dreaming Of A Barry White Christmas did so well this time last year that it’s now back for a longer run at the Echo Arena Auditorium – the main arena’s little brother, but a sizeable venue that’s comfortable, stylish and ideal for a production such as this.
Dreaming is based – very loosely! – on the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. The cast is led – superbly, of course – by that fine Liverpool actor Andrew Schofield, who plays Thomas Minge, the mean-spirited, Scrooge-like owner of a toilet roll warehouse. He’s also a Barry White fan, but losing the love of his life many years ago has made him a miserable so and so, and now he plans to throw his employees to the wolves by closing his business and selling the site to Tesco. The workforce set themselves the daunting task of somehow getting Minge to see the error of his ways, achieving what Dickens’s ghosts did with Scrooge.
Sometimes you can sit in an audience and sense that the comedy’s not quite hitting home – that the jokes are falling flat and the laughter’s a bit strained. But there’s no danger of that here: with Dreaming there’s genuine, riotous laughter from start to finish. Dave Kirby has an enviable gift for hilarious one-liners, imaginative visual comedy and quirky, colourful characters. Like Andrew Schofield, the key members of the cast all appeared in last year’s production and they’re excellent once again. They include Alan Stocks and Paul Duckworth, experienced local actors who never disappoint. Lenny Wood, a strong singer as well as an accomplished actor, is Wayne, who’s at the warehouse on work experience and has a memorable scene with an inflatable doll. Gillian Hardie as Louise is another excellent singer and Keddy Sutton as a female tramp has the audience in stitches with her impersonations of Cilla Black and Bart Simpson.
The music will lift your spirits as well, especially if you share Minge’s enthusiasm for Barry White. Dreaming has been a word of mouth hit, and it’s quite likely you’ve heard people saying how eye-wateringly funny it is. They’re right.
Dreaming Of A Barry White Christmas continues at the Echo Arena Auditorium, Liverpool until 3 January, 2015. For more information, click HERE.