Photo: Mark Carline

Review by Nigel Smith

A COUPLE of years ago at Grosvenor Park (and indoors at Storyhouse), director Loveday Ingram brought us a Julius Caesar that very boldly presented the title role as a thinly disguised Donald Trump, pledging to Make Rome Great Again. It was a parallel that worked extraordinarily well on so many levels and really made the play feel urgent and relevant.

Once again aiming for a contemporary edge on Shakespeare, this season she brings us a modern day Henry V. Here England has declared war on a France that has exchanged its Tricolour for the European Union flag. The inference is obvious but this Brextian take on the story is an awkward fit. Certainly the play has strong themes about the lines between national pride and jingoism, and strong leadership and self-interest, but there is only so far you can take the idea before it feels uncomfortably shoehorned in.

Ingram creates a powerful beginning by dividing the lines for the Chorus among the supporting cast members. Emerging from the audience, the actors declaim this opening text as they step down to take their places in the centre of the park’s ‘Wooden O’. Among what follows there are some very committed performances from the ensemble, although vocal projection is uneven. Joseph Millson in particular is a strong casting choice for Henry, and he pulls it off with great charisma. Sadly though, much of his dialogue fails to reach the terraces, and in some of the pivotal scenes in which he begins to question his own actions the text is lost entirely, unable to compete with the blustery winds of a Cestrian summer.

Millson does bring real weight to some of Henry’s big speeches, in particular those at Harfleur and Agincourt, one of which is delivered from atop a ladder, where he is held aloft to rally his troops.

The action scenes are very well choreographed and executed, the stage filled with noise and energy and this is where the open air setting really adds atmosphere to the work. There is also much good comic mileage to be made from the scenes with Pistol, Bardolph and Nym, and this is mined for all its worth by Samuel Collings, Jessica Dives and Mitesh Soni.

The final act with Henry’s proposal to Katherine can often appear incongruous. Here it feels like an epilogue, and is of course wound up with the reappearance of the chorus. They close the play as it began in a part divided among a handful of actors. This is a thoughtful and energetic reading of Shakespeare’s history which battles valiantly against the elements and, occasionally, its directorial concept.

Henry V continues in repertory at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre until 25th August.


CHEF Gary Usher, who owns restaurants throughout the region, will be featured in a Channel 4 documentary this autumn.

Known for his controversial and blunt honesty, Gary will be followed in the programme in the ups and downs of his journey to opening Pinion in Prescot.

The entrepreneur founded Elite Bistros group in 2011, starting with a restaurant set in a row of terrace houses in the small suburb of Hoole on the outskirts of Chester. Since then, Gary has gone on to open five more restaurants throughout the North West.

With crowdfunding support from the following he has gained over the years, Gary has managed to raise almost half a million pounds, with his latest efforts seeing him raise a record breaking £100,000 in less than 1 hour.

The documentary will air in Autumn 2019 on Channel 4.

POPULAR Italian restaurant Trattoria 51 is set to celebrate a third unit opening.

Located on 51 Whitechapel, Liverpool, Trattoria 51 will add to its portfolio, already holding both Southport Promenade and Old Hall Street venues.

The new venue is set to open in September, seeing 15 new jobs introduced.

Restauranteur Attilio Sergi said: “Being from Italy originally, we have been warmly welcomed into Liverpool and have seen hundreds of thousands of guests come through the doors of our Old Hall Street venue over the years, so it seemed only fitting that we open another location in the city to provide our service to even more guests.

“We are delighted to finally announce plans for our newest venue, which will combine all of the things that our guests know and love about the Trattoria 51 brand in an all-new location.

“Trattoria 51 is a family-run business and everyone who works with us becomes part of that family. Being able to increase our team and provide new opportunities for the local workforce in Liverpool and Southport means a lot to us

“We look forward to welcoming existing and new guests to our new restaurant alongside our Old Hall Street and Southport locations.”

FOR the first time, a huge outdoor cinema experience is heading to the National Trust’s Speke Hall.

Taking place across four days in September, the screened films include everything from Dirty Dancing (12A) on Sunday 15 September Bohemian Rhapsody (12A) on Thursday 12 September that will have everyone stomping their feet and clapping their hands.

For action film fans, see Tom Cruise’s Top Gun (12A) on Friday 13 September, while a trip to the future sees a young John Connor battling it out in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (15) on Saturday 14 September.

Outdoor cinema has become ever more popular in recent years and now Liverpool is getting the chance to join in the fun, as part of QUAD’s Summer Nights Outdoor Film Festival. The nationwide festival will bring their huge inflatable screen to Speke Hall’s lawn, giving an unrivalled view of the city’s cherished Tudor mansion.

“We’re absolutely delighted to be working with National Trust Speke Hall – a renowned jewel in Merseyside’s heritage. The Summer Nights Film Festival brings outdoor cinema to the very best heritage properties nationwide, and so where better to enjoy four nights of cinema than the glorious gardens of Speke? I’m planning my picnic already!” said Dr Alex Rock, Director, Summer Nights Film Festival.

Film-goers are invited to bring a picnic, dress for the weather and bring their own seating. Each film will start approximately 30 minutes after sunset, with gates opening at 6.30pm. There will be access to toilets, baby-changing facilities and all films will be screened with subtitles so that everyone can truly sit back and relax. Free parking will also be available on-site.

Full listings:

Bohemian Rhapsody (12A)
Thursday 12 September

Top Gun (12A)
Friday 13 September

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (15)
Saturday 14 September

Dirty Dancing (12A)
Sunday 15 September

For more information or to buy tickets visit or call the QUAD Box Office on 01332 290606.
Tickets are priced at £15.50 for adults or £10.50 for under 12s, and under five years go free. Tickets for group bookings of eight or more are £12.50 for adults or £8.50 for under 12s.



Review by Nigel Smith

CAST aside thoughts of film and television adaptations, turn your imagination up to its maximum setting, and re-immerse yourself in the spirit of Mary Norton’s original text. Bryony Lavery’s new stage adaptation of The Borrowers, as with her Swallows and Amazon’s for last year’s Grosvenor Park season, takes us back to the source material with obvious affection.

There are challenges to be overcome and buckles to be swashed as Lavery’s selection of characters from Norton’s books set forth on a madcap sequence of adventures. Whether it is making a new home in an old boot, overcoming attacks from birds and cats, or keeping safe distance from the Human Beans whilst rescuing one another from danger, our intrepid band of Borrowers attack it with gusto.

There’s a plot of sorts, but the mainstay of the storytelling is in the character development. The beauty of Norton’s tales was their ability to highlight different attributes of personality, and to explore moral ideas, and this translates magically in Lavery’s retelling.

Under the direction of Robert Shaw Cameron, the 12 strong cast are palpably having tremendous fun. Set and costume design from Rhys Jarman play a huge role in making these little people. It’s a game in itself spotting all the references of detail in the costumes and props, from pencil sharpeners and USB plugs as rucksacks to sweet wrappers and garment labels for clothes. The design department have had a field day.

Making us believe that the actors are tiny requires just one simple device, in which we are temporarily shrunk down to their size for the duration of the play. A series of set pieces demonstrate what it’s like to be of Lilliputian scale in a human world, frequently raising enthusiastic rounds of applause. A particular favourite is a rain storm with oversized raindrops plummeting down with enormous plops, to the obvious splashy delight of the children in the front row.

There are too many gleeful performances to list, but highlights are Vanessa Schofield’s brave Arietty, Lisa Howard’s long-suffering Homily, and a trio of splendid characters from Mitesh Soni, including a hysterical rapping cricket.

This is cracking family entertainment demonstrating that, in their 10th anniversary year, the Storyhouse team at Grosvenor Park never tire of telling stories to ignite the imagination of audiences of all ages.

The Borrowers continues in repertory at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre until 25th August.

Previous MIB winners Claremont Farm

THERE are two weeks left for businesses and business people to enter the Merseyside Independent Business Awards (MIBs).

The event, which is now in its seventh year, was founded and is presented by Morecrofts Solicitors and is headline sponsored by the Liverpool BID Company.

Previous winners include Claremont Farm, Lunya, Suites Hotel and Inciner8.

It’s one of the biggest and most respected awards ceremonies in the city region, with 500 people attending a black tie ceremony in October.

The MIBs are also the only awards that recognise the work of independent businesses in the region.

Categories are;

  • Trades or Manufacturing Business of the Year
  • Professional Services Business of the Year
  • Culture & Tourism Business of the Year
  • Best Creative Business
  • The Community Impact Award
  • Retailer of the Year
  • Best Start Up (2 years or under)
  • Employee of the Year
  • Restaurant of the Year
  • Health and Wellbeing Business of the Year
  • Employer of the Year
  • Digital & technology Business of the Year
  • Business Person of the Year

Click here to enter:

To nominate another business click here:

Nominations close on August 30, and the winners of each award category – as well as the overall Merseyside Independent Business of the Year – will be announced at a glittering ceremony at Liverpool’s Rum Warehouse on Thursday 10 October.

Alison Lobb, managing partner at Morecrofts Solicitors, said: “Since we launched the MIB Awards in 2013, the number of nominations has increased every year and I’ve no doubt that that trend will continue this year.

“The awards are famed for giving independent businesses of all shapes and sizes a unique platform on which to shine. We have received incredible feedback from award winners about the impact the victory has had both on their business development and their employees.”

For more information please visit call event manager Rebecca Keegan on 0151 236 8871.

THE new Lord Mayor of Liverpool has revealed she wants to be a role model for the black community and encourage people to strive to achieve their goals, regardless of their background.

Councillor Anna Rothery will be sworn in at a ceremony at the Town Hall on Wednesday September 4 – making history as the city’s first ever black Lord Mayor. Her appointment follows Peter Brennan’s resignation from the post in July.

Breaking the mould isn’t new territory for Councillor Rothery, as in 2012 she made political history by becoming the first Liverpool councillor to address the floor of the United Nations in Geneva. During her speech to representatives from more than 50 countries, Anna talked about the city’s minority communities and the work undertaken to get them to participate in politics.

She became a councillor in 2006 and is responsible for the Princes Park ward – an area she was born and bred in. Anna attended St Silas Primary School and the former Paddington Comprehensive School, and continued her education by undertaking a number of Diplomas in various subjects including law, sociology and psychology.

For more than 25 years, the new Lord Mayor has worked on business and community development initiatives, and now works as a consultant for Migrant Workers North West – an organisation which champion the rights of our diverse community. She is also the North West Ambassador for the British Institute of Human Rights.

Currently Mayoral Lead for equality and race, Anna has always put the community at the heart of her work. She is a key player in Operation Black Vote – a scheme to get more black people in to politics – and also plays an integral role in bringing various community, political and faith leaders locally, nationally and internationally together to deal with issues relating to inclusion, diversity and new and emerging communities. There is a particular focus on education, employment, business, cultural awareness and championing economic equality.

Anna regularly chairs events at the International Slavery Museum and is involved with the Slavery Remembrance Day celebrations and commemorations which will take place on Friday 23 August.

A decision on the Lord Mayor’s three official charities will be made in the forthcoming weeks, although it’s been confirmed The Anthony Walker Foundation will be one of them.

Councillor Anna Rothery said: “To be given this opportunity is overwhelming and exciting at the same time, although I wish the circumstances were different.

“But now is as good as time as any – I was passionate about becoming a councillor and making a difference and I am equally as passionate about becoming Lord Mayor and having this opportunity to champion what I hold most dear: equality, diversity and community.
“There is so much to celebrate in this city and I’m proud to be the city’s first black Lord Mayor and I look forward to bringing our communities together.
“I hope that by taking on such a public-facing role I can be a positive role model to young men and women who come from similar backgrounds to me.
“I’m a working class woman brought up in Toxteth – where you come from should never stop you striving or achieving your goals, in fact it has made me even more determined to prove myself, and in turn make a difference to the lives of others.
“It’s going to be an exciting and emotional journey and I can’t wait to get started.”

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “Anna has been a leading light in championing the city’s diverse communities since becoming a councillor in 2006 and she will be a credit to the role of Lord Mayor.
“We are a welcoming city with a wide variety of cultures which we want to champion and celebrate, and Anna’s appointment will inspire and educate in equal measure. I know she will be a brilliant Lord Mayor.”

ROYAL Albert Dock Liverpool  has been included in Lonely Planet’s ‘Ultimate United Kingdom Travelist’ 2019.

This esteemed book ranks the 500 most memorable and compelling sights and experiences across Great Britain, Northern Ireland, and the Channel Islands to creative a definitive UK travel hit list.

To create this unique guide, Lonely Planet’s knowledgeable community of travel experts worked together to hand-pick their favourite sights, attractions and experiences before the voting began in order to get the top 500, including the Albert Dock.

Welcoming more than six million people every year, from locals to national and international visitors, the Dock is committed to being progressive and ever-evolving since its official opening in 1846.

In addition to being home to the largest group of Grade I listed buildings in the country, the Dock is also located on Liverpool’s UNESCO World Heritage waterfront, a truly impressive location.

The Albert Dock’s inclusion in the world-renowned once-in-a-lifetime Lonely Planet bucket list demonstrates how the Dock has become a prime destination for families, tourists and locals alike. Guests can enjoy an impressive food, drink, and retail offering in addition to some of Liverpool’s finest visitor attractions, which include Tate Liverpool, Merseyside Maritime Museum and International Slavery Museum.

THE popular indoor funfair will return to Exhibition Centre Liverpool on August  23 until September 1.

The event offers climate controlled, comfortable surroundings for families this summer holiday ensuring fun no matter the weather outside.

With more than 20 attractions for all ages including family favourites such as dodgems, funhouse, ghost train, inflatable play centre. Plus prize games galore and the ever-popular nutella donuts will also be back.

With three sessions a day to choose from, visitors can enjoy unlimited access to all rides during their chosen three-hour slot.

The entry fee of £10 gets the rider unlimited rides for the full three hours.

For those not wanting to ride a spectator fee of £2 is applicable and whilst under threes enter free, someone in the party must be wearing a riding wristband in order for them to access suitable rides. Carers can claim a free riding wristband with relevant ID presented at ticket desk on your chosen day/session.

An Autism Friendly/Quiet Session will be open for those with sensory needs at 10am on Tuesday 27 August. At this session the venue lights will be switched on, music will be turned down, ride lights off where possible and rides slowed where possible.

Full ride list can be found here.

Age and height restrictions apply, and under 14s must be accompanied by an adult.

To book tickets visit

Call the Ticket Quarter Box Office on 0344 809 4620

Tickets are also available via


Top chefs assemble for charity dinner

A ‘DREAM TEAM’ from the North’s finest chefs is to operate the celebrity kitchen for a fundraising dinner at Liverpool’s Hilton Hotel on Monday October 14 in aid of Hospitality Action.

The annual ‘Northern Lights’ event, which has been held in Manchester for the past two years and has raised £37k, will start with a cocktail and canapé reception before guests are treated to a truly stunning five course dinner prepared by five of the region’s  best award-winning chefs.

Mark Lewis, Chief Executive of Hospitality Action said: “We’re excited to be hosting some of the North’s most decorated and well-known chefs who will be joining forces to create a truly memorable menu. Northern Lights is one of the most important events on our calendar and I’m delighted to see hosted against the backdrop of Liverpool’s iconic skyline. The money raised will go towards helping industry people who find themselves in crisis”

The host for the evening will be Paul Askew, Fellow and Chairman in the North of England for the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and Chef Patron of the multi award winning Art School Restaurant.

A host of sommeliers from the region including Sarah Donoher, Head Sommelier at The Art School Restaurant in Liverpool and Filippo Zito, Deputy Manager and Somellier at Tast Cuina Catalana by Paco Perez will be on hand to share their knowledge.

Marcus Magee, General Manager at Hilton Hotel Liverpool city centre, said “We are delighted that this prestigious event is taking place in Liverpool and I am thrilled that myself and the team at the Hilton Hotel are hosting it”

The kitchen team:
Starter – Oli Martin, Hipping Hall, Lancashire
3 AA Rosettes

Fish Course – Ellis Barrie, Marram Grass, Anglesey
2017’s finalist of BBC’s Great British Menu and 2 AA Rosettes

Main Course – Adam Reid, The French, Manchester
2019’s main course winner of BBC’s Great British Menu and 4 AA Rosettes

Pre Dessert/Cheese Course – Simon Shaw, El Gato Negro, Manchester
Chef Patron / Creative Director

Dessert – Tom Parker, White Swan at Fence, Lancashire
1 Michelin Star and 2 AA Rosettes

Tickets for the Northern Lights Fundraising Dinner are £125 per person or £1,200 for a table of ten.
The price includes: cocktail and canapé reception, five course dinner, matched wines, coffee and petit fours.

The after party will take place in the Pima Bar at the Hilton Hotel with drinks, cocktails and live music until the early hours.

For tickets – contact Maria Carter on 020 3004 5516 or at

To find out more – visit


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