WAITING FOR HILLSBOROUGH
New London writer Lance Nielsen - who has also addressed himself to the Zeebrugge ferry disaster - brings his own vision of that fateful day in April 1989 to the people who will never forget.
The format, using an extremely powerful narrative using more than a dozen actors, is concise, level-headed and varied enough to work as both analysis and drama.
Only during the early stages of the story of two families, does balance get called into question: it's very difficult to enjoy an element of sit-com, knowing the scale of the inevitable disaster that lays in wait.
The build-up achieved by Nielsen, who also directs, is compelling, with a lawyer narrator echoing the the findings of Lord Justice Taylor.
"We don't have all the facts yet," says one of the characters watching the unfolding television coverage.
We still don't, which is why plays like this are important.
STAR RATING: **** Compelling
Joe Riley, Liverpool Echo, May 28 1998
POWERFUL WORK WHICH TELLS STARK STORY OF TRAGEDY
To be honest, I wasn't sure if I wanted to go to a play about the Hillsborough tragedy. I thought I had read enough and didn't want to know any more. But I am glad I went to Waiting For Hillsborough written, not as expected, by a Liverpool writer but Londoner Lance Nielsen.
His play is just as moving as McGovern's and, played live on stage by a committed cast, perhaps even more immediate.
Nielsen uses two fictional families to personalise the tale, one the Jacobs with a young son who goes missing, the other the Brennans with more youngsters to worry about.
It works because of genuinely moving performances from the cast, Nielsen's ability to capture real conversations and a well-researched background. Last night's audience included a number of Hillsborough families, some of whom were moved to tears. They gave it a standing ovation. It is not an easy evening for anyone but a rewarding one for anyone who believes in justice and a story that deserves to be heard.
Philip Key, Daily Post, May 28 1998
On April 8, 1989, 25,000 Liverpool fans assembled at Hillsborough football ground. Ninety six would not come back. At the Masque, Lance Nielsen's ingenious, nonpolitical, super-powerful play.
Humour of everyday life is juxtaposed by the crushing emotionalism. The clarity with which this starkly crafted play builds up the tension through fact and fiction is intense. Lord Justice Taylor (Matt Markham) reads aloft from his own report while the families live the day. The Brenans, Phil (Tony Barton), Jenny (Jenni Brooks), Steve (George Christopher), Robby (Chris Freeny), June (Kiki Kendrick), Cathy (Debra Redcliffe) and Becky (Anna Reynolds), sit together linked to the outside world by television and phone.
Majorie Bates Murphy, The Stage, June 11 1998
'Best New Talent' Award Liverpool Echo 1998