WATCH #ThisIsOurBev on Youtube!
The character of Bev was born in 2017, during a bingo night in an underground hotel bar in Liverpool.
Catherine Rice and Stephen Fletcher had met a few years back when Cath was co-running the Liverpool Actor's Studio on Seel Street when Life in Theatre staged The Last 5 years there.
"We knew there was something more to get from Bev", says Cath, "so we set about exploring different stories for her to tell and different ways of telling them."
"We created a short-film for BAFTA, gaining interest and positive feedback, developed a sell-out one-woman show for The Royal Court studio with a softer and warmer Bev at its heart, and used that to develop a new Christmas show, OUR BEV'S CHRISTMAS CRACKER." says Stephen.
During lockdown, Stephen and Cath co-wrote and filmed 10 x 4 minute films for Bev's Youtube channel. Across social media they became a source of light relief for our audience and a way of taking stock during a turbulent time for so many people. They have been viewed on Facebook by more than 40,000 people.
In them, Bev contemplated life as an actor after COVID, and stared down the reality of things never being the same. She was everything from compere at a Spanish holiday resort, going for male roles and auditions, considered for CATS the musical, and even volunteered to open the Liverpool zip-wire while championing the cause of Black Lives Matter and Liverpool's own history.
Completely unsubsidised, Cath and Stephen used this time as a way of honing their writing skills and keeping their creativity flowing during such a dormant period in the industry.
What they created was something they are proud of and will serve as a valuable reference point on life during the lockdown, albeit a comedic one, in years to come.
Visit our YouTube channel to see the full 10 films, and some surprise special guest stars in our finale!
BEV'S BUSKING BONANZA was mounted as part of Liverpool's Without Walls festival, bringing live entertainment to the streets after the pandemic lockdown.
Life in Theatre in association with Catherine Rice were awarded funding from Liverpool City Council, guaranteeing buskers from the city region a wage, during two pop-up stages on August Bank Holiday, 2020.
Mandolin players, drummers, singers, children, pianists, songwriters, guitarists and more all stepped up to the mic, performing some of their favourite songs, and for many this was the first time they had performed in 6 months, since the start of lockdown.
It was received well with passing members of the public, who all engaged with the event, with some people even putting money down for the performers.
Highlights included a local boy (Adam Cusak) raising money for his school funding, a young girl (Jess MacDonald) singing her lockdown song, Rainbow of Love, which was a charity single for the NHS, and a local drummer (Colin Lamont) who pulled a huge crowd and has performed all over the world.
OUR BEV'S CHRISTMAS CRACKER, 2018-
WINNER - Theatre Culture Award 2018, The Liverpool Echo.
Our Bev is an award-winning, two-act, comedy drama. Following a one-night scratch show of this loveable local character, Bev returned to The Royal Court Studio at the end of 2018, playing to sell-out crowds, to great critical acclaim and a surprise award for one of the best theatre pieces of the year.
Over the course of one evening backstage, we are transported to film sets, audition rooms and holiday camps as ever-ambitious singer and actor, Bev, takes us through her last 30 years in show business.
OUR BEV was produced by Life in Theatre, in association with The Royal Court.
Starring - Cath Rice
Directed by- Stephen Fletcher
Written by- Cath and Stephen
REVIEW: Catherine Rice shines as the club singer looking to the stars while lugging her own speakers around
Review by Jamie McLoughlin
About 10 years ago, someone in telly hit upon the idea of a pair of shows that were linked but different.
One was Moving Wallpaper, a comedy about the frantic scramble to get a new soap - Echo Beach - on air. Straight after Moving Wallpaper, an actual episode of Echo Beach was aired with some subtle in jokes bleeding through from the former into the script of the latter.
For some reason, this brave experiment kept coming to mind while watching the remarkable tour-de-force underway in the Royal Court basement until Saturday.
Our Bev’s Christmas Cracker is a one-woman show of two halves performed by the remarkable Catherine Rice.
Prior to the interval we have an earthy, warm monologue about a club singer preparing for her last gig after 30 years in the business.
Bev’s had a better career than most, from film and TV extra work to offers of cruise ship residencies and even a brief appearance on Corrie. But the phone call she is waiting for that evening could change her career for ever and propel her into movies.
Rice’s approachable, engaging stage persona, helped no doubt by her own experiences on the comedy and compere circuit, means she never gets lost in the monologue co-written with director Stephen Fletcher.
This is a production which knows its audience as the Court’s studio, fast becoming a venue to try out new writing before unleashing it on a wider world, becomes both sides of the Scotch Broth social club stage, complete with shimmering foil curtains and festive trappings. It’s well-written straightforward comedy with a worldly intelligence underpinning the humour.
Bev doesn’t hold back from telling all about the encounters with sleazy managers and showbiz impresarios which shaped her experiences with fame and is quick to laugh at herself as much as everyone else in a characterisation which brings to mind a Scouse Marti Caine.
It’s an analogy more prominent in the second half.
The shift from monologue to stand-up routine gives the production a welcome depth and it’s interesting to see some punchlines land after being seeded in the first half. Rice is a natural performer with a crowd and despite the acres of dialogue she has to wrangle, can still pause for some impromptu interaction with the crowd.
It’s also in this half we get to hear more of her singing voice as she treats us to The Temptations’ Get Ready and a smattering of audience favourites. Certainly vocals worth waiting for, it was enough to get some of the room on their feet.
It’s a solo show about a strong Liverpool woman dealing with life on her own terms so perhaps there will be inevitable comparisons to a certain Shirley but that would be unfair. Shirl is wistful and wants to escape the grind, Bev is a realist and is quite prepared to launch herself headlong into it.
This is only in town for a short run but for something more intimate with a lot of heart, soul and Merseyside wit, you’ll be glad you popped down to see Bev.