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New play Sober Companion to debut at Liverpool Theatre Festival

11 months ago

New play Sober Companion to debut at Liverpool Theatre Festival
Sober Companion at Liverpool Theatre Festival. Credit David Munn

The drama co-written and co-starring Joe McGann and Jake Norton explores the funny, raw, and sometimes dark places of fame, addiction, and recovery.

Liverpool Theatre Festival returns in less than two weeks – and one highlight of the 11-day programme is Sober Companion, a specially commissioned new play co-written and co-starring Liverpool-born actor Joe McGann and Jake Norton. 

Sober Companion will premiere at Liverpool Theatre Festival on Saturday 22 July, with two performances at 3.30pm and 7.30pm. It is one of three specially commissioned works to be presented for the very first time at the event. 

This is the first time playwrights and actors Joe McGann and Jake Norton have been involved in Liverpool Theatre Festival, and they are relishing the experience. 

Written and performed by Joe McGann and Jake Norton, the play explores the funny, raw, and sometimes dark places of fame, addiction, and recovery. It is suitable for audiences aged 14 upwards. 

Liverpool-born Joe McGann is part of the well-renowned and talented McGann family.

He is probably best loved for his role in long running television sitcom The Upper Hand alongside Diana Weston and Honor Blackman.

He will appear in new Netflix series KAOS. Theatre credits include West End productions by Bertolt Brecht, Sam Shepherd, John Steinbeck, and Willy Russell. Joe moved back to Liverpool three years ago after moving away in the late 1970s. 

Jake Norton trained at Liverpool John Moores University and Hope Street Theatre.

He lectured at Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) for seven years, before going on to lecture at The MGA in Edinburgh.

The London-born playwright and actor, lived in Liverpool for 22 years before heading to Scotland where he still lives – so he is very much forward to again taking to the stage in Liverpool.

Jake’s screen credits include Coronation Street, The Bill, Emmerdale, The Royal, and he has recorded several plays for BBC Radio 4.

His theatre work has seen him tour extensively nationally and internationally. 

Sober Companion at Liverpool Theatre Festival. Credit David Munn
Sober Companion at Liverpool Theatre Festival. Credit David Munn

Jake Norton plays Dan – a high-flying prime time television presenter. He also has a bad habit which he denies, but it’s not hidden as well as he thinks. People close to him are concerned. 

Joe McGann plays Gerard – and he has seen it all before. He has personal experience of recovery that could be useful to Dan, so his services have been engaged. He embraces the basic human right of ‘taking the edge off’ reality, and the hidden consequences of black-outs. 

There is an intervention, intrusion of privacy, stranger in the midst. We all need a little help sometimes, but it can be difficult to admit.

Sober Companion is one of three shows specially commissioned and will premiere at Liverpool Theatre Festival. The others are children’s shows The Oogy Boogy Man and Fred The Musical. 

The festival returns this month for its fourth consecutive year this time with a Summer run, taking place outdoors at St Luke’s Bombed Out Church in Liverpool city centre from Thursday 20 July to Sunday 30 July.  

Liverpool Theatre Festival was created by Liverpool theatre producer Bill Elms, who has worked in the theatre industry for more than 30 years.

Theatres and live entertainment venues were ordered to close immediately under the Government’s first national Covid-19 lockdown guidelines in March 2020. It was Bill’s mission and vision to reinvigorate and boost the city’s live performance and creative arts sector, offering a lifeline when it was needed most. Liverpool Theatre Festival was created in a matter of weeks. 

Since its inaugural staging in Autumn 2020, it has gone on to win praise from audiences and critics alike, as well as winning many awards along the way. Liverpool Theatre Festival is committed to supporting local artists, creatives, and theatre companies. 

Fringe event Little LTF – Liverpool Theatre Festival Of New Works will take place in the Autumn, running between Tuesday 3 October and Sunday 8 October 2023.

Performances will be staged within the more intimate marquee at St Luke’s Bombed Out Church. Further details about submitting work will be announced soon. 

For more info on Liverpool Theatre Festival click here.

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