Twopence to Cross the Mersey - Lichfield Garrick Review

Twopence to Cross the Mersey - Lichfield Garrick Review


Posted 2022-10-23 by Tony Collinsfollow

Sat 22 Oct 2022 - Sun 23 Oct 2022

The bleak landscape that was 1930s Britain in the years after the Great Depression is wonderfully laid bare in this superb stage adaptation of author Helen Forrester's autobiography. Twopence to Cross the Mersey, which is enjoying its first ever UK tour, including two nights at the Lichfield Garrick theatre, is based on the first of Helen's four autobiographical books which went on to sell millions of copies. Playwright and co-producer Rob Fennah, who got to know Helen personally during their collaboration, successfully captures the dreadful poverty and bleakness of the time. Twopence to Cross the Mersey, named after the cost of the ferry over the river, opens at the start of 1931 when Helen is just 12 years old. She, together with her parents and six siblings, are forced to leave their comfortable middle-class existence, complete with children's nanny, and move to Depression-hit Liverpool following her father's bankruptcy. Their last hope ends when her father John's own mother refuses to lend him any more money, accusing him of being a "worthless spendthrift".

Despite the large family having to scrimp and save for every penny, while also relying on handouts to survive, the real victim of the story is the young Helen. For the two years of her life that Tuppence covers, from 12 up to the age of 14, she is forced to stay at home and look after baby Edward while her younger siblings all go to school. In fact, Helen is cast as a virtual servant and baby-minder so her parents can make the daily grind of visiting the labour exchange in an unsuccessful search for work. An outstanding nine-strong cast takes on the roles of more than 40 characters between them. While Helen and her brother Alan are the only Forrester children depicted on stage, apart from the bundle that is Edward, the play features a wide variety of other people to have crossed the family's path, from landladies and a kindly policeman to a grumpy caretaker and jobless men at the labour exchange.

The cast is superbly led by Jenny Murphy as Helen, who also takes on the bulk of the narrating as the grim tale unfolds and the family's plight becomes ever more desperate. She is well matched by Mark Moraghan, whose cv includes Holby City, Coronation Street and Brookside, as Helen's father John, and Lynn Francis as her mother Celia, who struggles to come to terms with their fall from grace. The rest of the cast share a variety of roles, with Lynne Fitzgerald and Daniel Taylor particularly impressive as sibling landlords Mrs Foster and Mr Ferris. Daniel also takes on the role of jobless Frank alongside Rob Hudson as Mick and Roy Carruthers (O'Farrell). The line-up is completed by Parry Glasspool as Helen's brother Alan, and Chloe McDonald, who played a variety of pivotal parts.

Twopence to Cross the Mersey continues its UK tour which ends with a run of dates in Liverpool, For more information visit For a list of future shows at the Lichfield Garrick theatre visit

#theatre -reviews
!date 22/10/2022 -- 23/10/2022
70780 - 2023-01-26 01:49:20


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