Entertainment In A Class Of Its Own


The Mersey Sound is one of the biggest selling poetry books of all time and over the years the names McGough, Henri and Patten have become synonymous with the city of Liverpool. The anthology captured the mood of the Sixties; energetic, raw and a true record of its era. Tonight’s show features Roger and Brian delivering a fine selection of vintage, classic and surprising poems, many of which have been set to the musical accompaniment of LiTTLe MACHiNe, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of this iconic & top-selling book.


The evening starts with both McGough and Patten reading a couple of their pieces from the original publication before LiTTLe MACHiNe join in to perform a couple of pieces from the much-missed Adrian Henri who passed away in December 2000.


Patten takes to the fore to share some pieces reflecting childhood before turning to some recent work and his translation of Moroccan Sufi comic poems – which I can best define as an Arabic equivalent of a limerick but wittier – has the full-house audience in stitches.


Then it’s McGough’s turn with a mix of politically and socially observant pieces equally reflecting his insightful humour and with a couple of pieces performed with LiTTLe MACHiNe providing a refreshing take on performance poetry. His Missing Rhyme had the audience completing the final line on several stanzas to much laughter and applause.



LiTTLe MACHiNe start the second half with Yeats’ Isle of Innisfree before Patten takes to the front again to read a selection of current works, many still in draft, which was an absolute pleasure to hear as they perfectly embrace his natural warmth and gentle humour.


McGough returns to deliver from his vast selection of material, ranging from the humorous - the cats medley - to the quite touching: Tomorrow Has Your Name On It, accompanied by LiTTLe MACHiNe, was particularly moving.


As the show closes to the audience clapping and singing along to Byron’s We’ll Go No More A Roving, someone wisely recalled that Henri had produced a more down to earth version called NightSong which, with the audience in full voice, served as the perfect tribute to him. An encore of Henri’s Car Crash Blues finished the evening off brilliantly.


Hilarious and surreal, Roger McGough is a poet of many voices. 2017 sees his summer of ’67 epic poem of love & lust, broken promises and unfettered dreams, Summer With Monika, being republished and his New and Selected Poems is published later in the year. 


One of the UK’s most distinctive and popular poets, Brian Patten has been delivering scrupulously crafted, heartbreakingly honest, funny, and uplifting poems for nearly five decades and his readings are always memorable. 2017 sees Everyman Company bringing his classic book The Story Giant to the stage.


LiTTLe MACHiNe are the musicians, composers, and writers Walter Wray, Steve Halliwell & Chris Hardy. It's poetry - but not like you've heard or seen it before. Their new album, The Likes of Us, sees them perform twelve of McGough’s poems with him. Further details http://www.little-machine.com/ 


The Playhouse began life as the Star Music Hall in 1866 and became a theatre in 1911. In 2000 the Playhouse joined forces with the Everyman to become Liverpool and Merseyside Theatres Trust (LMTT) with Gemma Bodinetz (Artistic Director) and Deborah Aydon (Executive Director) appointed as joint Chief Executives in 2003. As well as the main theatre, there is a small studio space seating up to 80. Further details http://www.everymanplayhouse.com/


Reviewer: Mark Davoren

Reviewed: 28th January 2017

North West End Rating: ★★★★★