Friday, 27 March 2015

Forrester’s son flies in Canada to see mother's story told on stage

Written By: Mark Armstrong

Provided By: Epstein Theatre

Almost 21 years ago, best-selling author Helen Forrester flew from her home in Canada to watch her life story unfold in a musical adaptation of her most famous book, Twopence To Cross The Mersey.

Now, to celebrate the show's coming of age, her son Robert Bhatia has made the same journey to see his mother's inspirational memoir come to life in this brand new stage play adaptation.

The show opened at the Epstein Theatre to rave reviews and standing ovations for performances so far, and the producers have deemed the new format an instant success.

The new play ends its run at the Epstein Theatre tomorrow night, Saturday March 28, and then moves on to venues in Southport, St Helens and New Brighton.

The reviews reached as far and wide as Canada, and Robert Bhatia sent all the cast a personal message on press night before flying over to Liverpool especially to see the production.

The author’s son made a special visit to Liverpool this week with his family to see his mother’s story retold on stage.

Helen Forrester’s Twopence To Cross The Mersey tells the true story of a young girl and her formerly wealthy family, as they are suddenly thrown into poverty during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Leaving behind the nannies, servants and comfortable middle-class life in the South West of England, they uproot their shattered lives and choose Liverpool as the place to start again to rebuild their dreams and fortune. Unbeknown to them however, a terrible shock awaits them.

After witnessing the performance at Liverpool's Epstein Theatre, which received a full standing ovation, Robert Bhatia commented: "Rob Fennah and the production team have done a wonderful job of adapting the book to stage.

"The staging is simple, yet evokes the setting very effectively.

"The play is faithful to my mother's writing and, at the same time, it is enriched by the development of the minor characters and the incorporation of some lovely humorous touches."

Rob Fennah, writer and producer, added: "Of course, I was apprehensive at the prospect of Helen's son and family sitting in the audience.

"Whilst the story remains the same, it is a brand new 'straight play' adaptation and completely different in style from the 'musical' version Helen came to see in 1994.

"Sadly, with her not being with us any more to approve this version, it was very important that her family fully endorsed the new adaptation."

Robert Bhatia also noted: "The strong cast captured the essence of the family and their characters and of those they encountered.

"One can only put so much detail into a book, and the actors do a fine job bringing their characters to life.

"From the first moment of the play, Maria Lovelady was entirely believable to me as my mother; she balanced the strength of will that Helen demonstrated with the vulnerability that she must have felt.

"Emma Dears, who played 'Mother', also deserves specific mention as the complex character of my grandmother."

The new version is being staged by Pulse Records Ltd in collaboration with producer and stage writer Rob Fennah and producer Bill Elms; they are joined by director Bob Eaton.

The show will celebrate 21 years on stage, to the day, when they are at Southport Theatre on Thursday April 9.

Robert concluded: "Our family were all moved by my mother's story brought to life on the stage.

"We are thrilled that we were able to see the production, and very pleased to see Liverpool thriving once more."

Twopence To Cross The Mersey runs in the Epstein Theatre until Saturday March 28. For ticket information, click here.

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