Show review by Julia Pattison: The Greatest Play In The History Of The World at York Theatre Royal

Play: The Greatest Play In The History Of The World…

Sunday, 6th June 2021, 9:10 pm
Julie Hesmondhalgh didn’t disappoint as a stand-alone narrator. Photo: Alex Harvey-Brown/Savannah Photographic

Venue: York Theatre Royal

Review by Julia Pattison

Julie Hesmondhalgh trained at LAMDA and is best known for her award–winning portrayal of Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street.

There’s no doubt in my mind that her name drew in bums on seats, and she didn’t disappoint as a stand-alone narrator.

Seeing her live, on stage, greeting us warmly, and glowing like the ray of sunshine she is, helped you to instantly forget the discomfort of having to wear a mask (necessary, but a faff!) and was a cocoon of comfort as we’re all tentatively tiptoeing out of Covid Lockdown.

The script was penned by her writer husband Ian Kershaw, and the play was directed by Raz Shaw. Like all good storytellers, Julie soon had us under her spell as she wove her tale, marking all the characters by a pair of shoes brought down from the simple, but stunning set of two enormous metal shoe racks (designed by Naomi Kuyck-Cohen).

Julie’s delivery was energetic and expressive, and we become intrigued to know more about Tom and Sarah, two young people who lived opposite each other on Preston Street and felt that their lives had stagnated.

There were times when I wasn’t sure where the story was leading to, then with the clever combination of a poetic script, laced with comedy, and delivered with impeccable comic timing by this outstanding actress, I “got it”, and the power of love shone like a golden beacon, reminding us of the joy of everlasting memories.

Great use of lighting (Jack Knowles) helped us to feel we were travelling in time too, encouraging us to reach for our own stars and to almost feel the sun’s warmth.

As the loud speakers played “Here Come The Sun”, Julie took a well-deserved bow at the end of the play, brightening up the auditorium as she beamed broadly.