SLAPPERS and Slapheads began life at the Royal Court in 2003, and returns whipped into shape to launch the theatre’s 2009 programme.
And what a belter it is. Based on a night at the city’s infamous Grafton nightclub – which becomes the Palace, with off-stage DJ Pete Price warming up the audiences himself until the 18th – there’s more to it than you might imagine from the title.
Everything is helped, of course, by some hugely enjoyable performances that really do justice to the notably tight writing of Fred Lawless and Len Pentin.
And it’s pleasing to say that it’s the female roles that prove to be the most memorable.
Gillian Hardie, as bolshie Elaine, leads the charge. In the wrong hands, the character could be some cloying tart-with-a-heart, but, as the saucy leader of the girls and no-nonsense judge of the boys, she shines.
Helen Carter, who impressed last year with her supporting role in Once Upon a Time at the Adelphi, is understated this time as heavily pregnant Sue, desperately seeking the one night stand that resulted in her condition.
And Gillian Hardie’s straight-laced Elaine should not be able to get away with some of the filth she eventually finds herself turned on to, but produces a comic turn surely worthy of Royal Court legend.
It’s crude and lewd, but so very well written and enthusiastically performed that it works well.
With some great lines, great actors and great tunes, this “Scouse play”, perhaps more than any other definitely shows the potential to travel further afield.