If you stand with your back to the Triad building on Bootle’s Stanley Road today you will see opposite you a Chinese restaurant and a bookmaker’s shop, but there from February 1911 until May 1941 (when it was destroyed in the May blitz) stood the imposing renaissance-style five storey edifice of the Metropole Theatre.
Following its hugely successful debut at Little LTF earlier this summer, Twice Nightly makes a well deserved return to the bigger stage of Liverpool Theatre Festival this week. Maria Lovelady and Michael Alan Bailey who wrote and directed the show also play the lead roles of Don and Madge, A music hall double-act who are regulars at The Metropole, appearing twice nightly on a bill that played two shows at 6:40 and 8:50 in 1931 when this show is set.
Except tonight their second show looks as if it might not happen, because at the first house of the evening they stole the show, and a constable has arrested them for the crime and dragged them up before ‘The Beak’.
In their efforts to explain themselves to the court, Don and Madge take us on a whistle stop tour of their repertoire and some of the places they have played, in a zany, rapid-fire and immensely entertaining 70 minutes of Vaudeville mayhem with music by Jessica Dives. It features Roy Carruthers, as both the duo’s co-star The Great Wally – complete with a wayward performing parrot – and as the constable, and the voice of Eithne Browne as ‘The Beak’ (the one on the bench, not on the parrot – keep up with me here). The show manoeuvres seamlessly from one routine to another, weaving them into an unlikely but spellbinding storyline that has its 2021 audience as much entranced as the Bootle Metropole crowd 90 years ago.
Twice Nightly is a winning combination of wit, nostalgia and really slick delivery, and the biggest crime would have been not to bring it back for another showing.
Star rating – 5 stars
Review by Nigel Smith