Review: Brick Up 2 – The Wrath Of Ann Twacky At Royal Court Theatre

SINCE the Kingsway Three first Bricked Up the Mersey Tunnels in 2006, Dave Kirby and Nicky Allt’s original play has become the Royal Court’s biggest hit and the prototype for The Court’s familiar and hugely successful brand of uniquely local comedy. After five revivals in ten years, the writing duo felt it was time to respond to fans’ insistence on knowing the real story of what happened next (swiftly glossing over the Empire’s 2010 version of events). The story so far… do we really need to ask? A fanfare from the band and quick mental dissolve from the curtain call at the end of ‘episode 1’ finds us a mere two weeks after our hapless heroes Dickie Lewis, Gerard Gardner and Nick Walton cut off the link between Liverpool and the Wirral. The powers that be are about to reopen the tunnels, but social climber extraordinaire Ann Twacky is getting to like Wirralian independence and is looking forward to her new ties with Chester. Add to this a couple of sub-plots involving the local seafood trade and lovelorn cafe owner Maggie, and the time is ripe for more concerted efforts to cut off the Wirral even more effectively. A good deal of the humour is in the surprise of the lyrics of the cleverly adapted songs and in some of the mad twists of the tale, so let’s not get into too much detail – suffice to say that along with the bricks, mortar and dynamite come all the old characters and almost all the familiar cast. Eithne Browne, after falling foul of the dreaded lurgy over Christmas, is back in fine fettle as the legendary Ann Twacky, a distant cousin maybe of Hyacinth Bucket, were it not for her Bootle beginnings. My friend has suggested that she may even trace roots back to Mollie Sugden’s Mrs Hutchinson from the Liver Birds; an interesting thought. Roy Brandon’s long-suffering Dennis Twacky has seemingly found his mojo, to bizarrely comic effect, and Francis Tucker is mesmerisingly salacious as the uncontrollable Liz Card. Paul Duckworth is slightly under-used here in his very witty Gerard Gardner, while Andrew Schofield’s dual turn as Dickie Lewis and Dee Estuary remind us again of his sure-handed characterisation and magical comic timing. With writing lewder and ruder than ever before, Brick Up 2 is not made for those of a gentle disposition, but this is how or maybe even why the audience love it. Brace yourself for some truly dastardly wordplay and go with the flow, and you’re in for a very funny night out. My companion for the evening was quick to point out a geographical hole in the plot at Bridgefoot, but me? I reckon there might be an opening for Brick Up 3 somewhere down by Wilderspool Causeway – Warrington beware… Review by Nigel Smith