My first review of 2020 was Pirate Rock 2 at the Hope Street Theatre was written by Barry Levy. There are 2 sets of pirates were on a mysterious island called Pirate Rock were the Rebel Tribe lived, one set of pirates were called The Renegade Pirates and the others were called The Outlaw Pirates.

Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony, ‘The Romantic’, is partnered with Haydn’s Symphony No. 90, under the expert guidance of Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor Andrew Manze for a powerful and emotional musical evening.

Wake up Maggie by All Things Considered, promises “class, confusion – and karaoke” (because things sound better in threes) and they more than deliver.

Liverpool’s Royal Court always does a great job at putting all things Liverpool on stage and their latest production Lost in Colomendy is no exception. For those who doesn’t know what Colomendy is, like I didn’t when I got to the theatre, it’s a residential centre in Wales that young people commonly get sent to from Liverpool. In this play, a new manager takes a group of B&Q staff members to Colomendy on a team building weekend and it’s safe to say it doesn’t go according to plan.

A classic comedy farce with smart dialogue about misunderstanding, miscommunication and English, middle-class duplicity. Alan Ayckbourn’s play was first performed (under the title Meet My Father) in 1967 and there have been over 350 performances since, establishing Ayckbourn as a notable English playwright. The Carlton Players, under the directorship of Steve Youster, have served up a treat to keep the production fresh thanks to a cast which delivers timing and personality to the characters and the complex plot.

Make no mistake, this is most bizarre, so much so, that comes an announcement early on requesting the audience to leave the building, no mad rush for the exit because everybody assumed it was to do with the play. As if that didn't provide more than enough drama for one night....

Sombre, written and directed by Melissa Hale, is a story of war: literal and figurative, big and small, explosively violent and psychologically tormenting. Hale, together with Assistant Director, Megan Ryder-Maki and Choreographer, Cameron Dobson, has created a painfully brutal piece of theatre which will leave you stunned, and quite possibly close to tears.

Faustus tells the story of a doctor who sells their soul to Lucifer to become more powerful and their journey coming to terms with what hell is really like. Going into this production, I knew very little of the plot or ideas presented in the play. The play discusses interesting ideas with regards to heaven and hell and is one of very few pieces to put this existential debate front and centre.

What is the attraction in scaring ourselves silly? I’m sure much has been written on catharsis and thrill seeking, exploring the paranormal and experiencing the beyond, but judging by this production of Woman in Black, the answer at the top of the list would be ‘Because it’s extremely entertaining!’

“Curtains” had a disappointing start with a 10-minute delay that had the audience a little unsettled but in the gutsy opening number of ‘Wide Open Spaces’ this uncertainty soon disappeared. The opening song of cowboys and girls in the vein of “Oklahoma” certainly wasn’t what we were expecting for this ‘who-dun-it musical spoof’ but it’s refreshing to be surprised. The set was turned so that we were backstage (I love that!) and we see the old starlet Madame Marian murdered.

In Vasily Petrenko’s introduction to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic orchestra’s performance of Mahler’s first symphony last night, he spoke of how Mahler’s aim was to move away from the superheroes of the symphonies of Brahms and Beethoven and instead focus on ‘simple human life’ and the ‘journey of the individual and his role in the universe’.