The new Everyman theatre is Liverpool’s latest cultural icon, winner of the Stirling prize for architecture, recycled, sustainable, heat recovered and filled with great quality air…. Portraits of everyday Liverpudlians have been designed into the theatre’s ‘street face’ by architect Steve Tompkins, it has a small but magical, two-thirds-in-the-round performance space and loads of bars, bistros and mingling areas. I do slightly wonder whether the Stirling prize judges were over impressed by the new theatre’s green credentials (should they not be a given in any new build these days?) as, with the exception of the performance space, I was somewhat underwhelmed. Maybe my architectural appreciation is not finely enough honed…
Be that as it may, Cressida and I had decided that a visit to the Everyman should be included in our Allergy and FreeFrom Show trip to Liverpool. So I booked us in for what was in fact the last performance of Bright Phoenix – a delightful fantasy woven around a gang of Liverpool street people, the streets and the buildings they lived in, their dreams as they were then – and as they are now. Gang leader, Lucas, who had left the city to make his fortune and now is back, Alan Icarus who made himself wings to fly like a bird, transvestite songster Stephen who trills from the rooftops in his evening gowns, drunken, one eyed illiterate Spike who ‘finds himself’ by copying poetry onto banners, and everyone’s love, Lizzie who make bombs in dustbins and steals electricity to light their den.
Their crumbling ‘den’ is in fact a real live cinema – or at least the shell of a real live cinema, the Futurist, which still just about survives 100 yards down the road from Lime Street station. Well, to be strictly accurate, the front of it still survives although under active threat of demolition by developers. Supporters are desperate to preserve the cinema which opened in 1912 and only finally closed in 1982 to make room for a new multi-screen cinema. It would still be just about possible to save, although, as you can see, it is in a very sad state… However, if you wish to support the campaign to save the Futurist, check in to their Facebook page here.
And finally to Il Forno…
Il Forno is an old style rather large and flash Italian family run restaurant – lots of shiny counters, lots of lights, lots of buzz and lots of chatter all surrounding a huge, open-mouthed pizza oven. This being the north where ladies dress up (rather than living their whole lives in jeans as we do in London) there is also lots of sparkly jewellery, sparkly eye shadow, sparkly dresses and sparkly bare shoulders! Bizarrely, Il Forno lives, along with rather posh Indian, Thai and Mexican restaurants in the bottom of a decidedly dreary office block in Duke Stree just round the corner from our beloved Parr Street Studios.
We had actually found it last year when we came to the Allergy show and we did remember that it was very nice, but this year it did us proud. We were treated to dinner by some of our show colleagues wanting to escape the hotel chain ghetto around Albert Dock – and what delicious food… I had a the best tuna steak I have had in years – very substantial, but then this is the north – nestled into a large bed of delicious sun-dried tomato tinged vegetables – and everyone else was equally happy. They could also offer us gluten-free pastas although our confidence in their allergen awareness were somewhat dented when we found a shaving of Parmesan on the side of Cressida’s supposedly dairy-free salad. But for those who do not have any dietary problems and who do love old-style Italian food, next time you are in Liverpool…….
I could also rave on about The Pheasant Inn at Tattenhall just outside Chester, but I won’t…. (We decided we could not face the slog down M6/M1 behind a million articulated lorries on the Sunday night so treated ourselves to a night in the borderlands on our way home.) I will let you take a look at their website if you interested and merely point out that although we had a lovely time and they could not have been more charming and more helpful, they too failed on the dairy-free front. Having asked twice whether the sorbet was dairy free (it certainly looked creamy) and having been assured by the lovely helpful waiter that it was, Cressida had eaten a third of it when the manager came rushing in to warn us that in fact the sorbet included a small amount of cream…. Fortunately Cressida is only intolerant, not allergic, it was only small amount of cream and she and not eaten that much, so she did not suffer any after effects, but had she been allergic it could have been a very different story.
It is also worth pointing out that the restaurant was at fault and liable to prosecution regardless of the new regulations as they had been very specifically asked whether the sorbet included dairy products and had been very specifically told that the guest could not eat dairy products so under existing food safety and consumer protection laws, Cressida could sue them….. And – why on earth call a product which includes dairy products a sorbet anyhow?….