The Mourning Bride Review – Hope Street Theatre, Liverpool

Image Source: North West End

Show: The Mourning Bride
Format: Play
Genre: Drama
Cast: Kel Nkondock, Shannon Power, Charlotte Cumming, Neve McLaughlin & Caitlin Bradley
Review Date: March 9 2020
Performances: March 9-10 2020; 7.30pm
Location: Hope Street Theatre, Liverpool
Duration: 54 Minutes
Age Rating: 14+

So, The Mourning Bride provides a modern, localised take on a classic tale at Liverpool’s Hope Street Theatre.

The Mourning Bride

Synopsis Of The Mourning Bride

This theatre show is a 21st-century retelling of Edward II, the timeless Christopher Marlowe play. This production, adapted by Marjorie H Morgan and directed by Zara Marie Brown, uses more or less the same premise by starting with the ending and working backwards from there by setting the scene for what is to come. Eddie (Charlotte Cumming) has inherited the family business after the passing of her father (this show has an all-female cast, and even those with male names are addressed as “her” during the show), but ER Towers is suffering badly due to mismanagement, a situation expedited by Eddie developing a relationship with Umar (Kel Nkondock), so much so that Edward even begins holding board meetings in the bedroom, as the other staff have to witness the romance between the budding couple.

Those who are forced to grin and bear it are Eddie’s PA Laurel (Caitlin Bradley), as well as Morgan (Shannon Power) and Bella (Neve McLaughlin). It is Bella’s role that proves crucial, though, because as we learn, not only were Eddie and Bella previously an item, but they are officially still married, pending a voice that would almost certainly remove Bella from the family business. A combination of concern over the company’s direction due to Eddie’s poor business decisions and frustration over how she was dumped by Eddie and essentially forced to witness her former husband canoodling with another woman leads Bella to convince her fellow employees to force Eddie out of power, essentially by drawing up a contract which emphasises a vote of no confidence in the head honcho.

Power

However, Eddie – who is clearly enjoying both the power that she now wields and the independence that she lacked when her father was alive – refuses, and even promotes Umar to the board of directors despite her clearly not being qualified for such a promotion. Each character takes turns in giving their insight. Most of them point out that they are totally different in reality to the perception that others have of them. But they all try to reason with Eddie. That is, until they, and Bella especially, can take no more. Cue the dramatic final section of the show which not only sees the ongoing company crisis resolved in a tragic manner, but with a neat twist at the very end that you will not be expecting.

Analysis Of The Mourning Bride

The stage is simple, with a bed, a leather chair and two circular tables each holding a bottle of wine and accompanying glasses. Lighting is effective, with slightly dimmed spotlights for each singular speech and a clear spotlight for Laurel’s final words to the audience. More notable is the red lighting used during the first and the most impactful scene of the evening. Foreboding yet near-silent music helps to set the tone for something sinister that is ultimately going to occur, and this show is a good example of how, even when you know that a potential disaster is coming, sometimes that knowledge is worse than a horrific event happening out of the blue.

As for the performances: all five were strong characters and very believable. Eddie’s desire to rule is understandable, yet she flaunts her power so much that she becomes problematic, while Bella is the wronged ex-wife and Morgan is able to slide between being hestiant and caring and cold and calculated. It’s arguable that only Laurel is sympathetic, and it is she who creates the most comedic moments of what is otherwise a completely serious show, perhaps because she is ultimately the character who the others deem to possess the least threat.

Conversations

This, of course, allows her to hear conversations and situations that other characters don’t trust anybody else with. But we receive enough information to fully get into the heads of all five characters. And the all-female cast makes for a refreshing change, as does the full use of the Liverpool location. Furthermore, the integration of modern devices such as a smartphone modernises the tale, considering its late 1500s origins.

Summary Of The Mourning Bride

In closing, this is a fascinating show to watch with a compelling story. It has you wondering what will happen next. And just when you think you have all the answers, the questions change. Definitely check out The Mourning Bride during its current run at the Hope Street Theatre.

Notes

Target Audience: Ages 18+
Content: Occasional Strong Language
Recommendation?: Yes

Overall Rating: 8.5/10 – Excellent

So, The Mourning Bride runs at the Hope Street Theatre until Tuesday March 10. To buy tickets, click here or call 0344 561 0622.

Check Out All Of Our Hope Street Theatre Reviews!