Writers LABB’s Mad as Hell @ 81 Renshaw Street

The Wall of Hate

2016 as a year has been… testing, to say the least.

When Liverpool new writing group Writers LABB sat down to plan their next production they were all too aware of the awful things happening this year and thus I’m Mad as Hell and I’m Not Going to Take It Anymore (Mad as Hell for short) was born. Writers LABB currently consists of four writers (Ruth Hartnoll, Gemma Curtis, Steph Dickinson and Joel Whitall) who all came together to write a medley of scenes about what has their blood boiling this year.

As the audience were brought into the intimate theatre space at 81 Renshaw Street, we were all encouraged to write down our pet peeves onto a post-it note and stick them on the Wall of Hate. A popular feature, with everybody venting their innermost torments, ranging from “The Daily Mail”, “Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary”, or my personal favourite, “Slow walkers who block the bloody pavement.”

The performance itself was a collection of satirical scenes based around current affairs. The entire performance resembled an up-to-date take on Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Too Afraid To Ask with every scene being introduced with an amusing placard and the lampooning of current societal norms – From a particularly left-wing viewpoint.

Topics taking the brunt of the anger ranged from media coverage of everything from Corbyn to the Olympics, the service industry, Trump apologists, and people who just don’t have a clue how their steak cooked (but refuse to be told otherwise!) Many scenes took place within the confines of a restaurant, with servers bemoaning their less-than-livable wage or patrons on Tinder dates sizing the other up. However, the production was at its strongest when using the Women’s Sports Hour format – a Fox News/Loose Women talk-show spoof dedicated to covering the Do’s and Dont’s of womanhood – with such stellar tips as “How to deal with sexual assault…with a smile!” Brilliantly performed by the three actresses (Maggie Quinlan, Megan Dawes & Caitlin Clough) who decimated topical gender issues whilst adopting the corny American accents we’re all so used to hearing.

Overall the production was strong, with some finely written and soundly acted scenes. Some of the points that were made suffered from being a little too told at times, but the honest heart of the piece shone through in the end. My only real problem was with the length, coming in at just fifty minutes, I felt the piece was capable of so much more as 2016 certainly hasn’t lacked for controversies.

The audience were told post-show how Mad as Hell was to act as a fundraiser for the upcoming 2017 Writers LABB production: whereby each writer is to create their own individual hour-long play. As always, I look forward to seeing what Writers LABB come up with, especially now they have a war chest behind them.

You can check out a brief description of each of the Writers LABB member’s upcoming plays here.