You know what? The Royal Court is bloody brilliant. Without a penny of public dosh it continues to back locally made and locally staffed productions: yeah, we may sniff at the Scouseploitatian, but guess what, if a theatre existed just to satisfy our whims, it’d be well and truly fucked.
So it’s brilliant to see this second phase of its nip and tuck looking so confident, cool and collected.
The £3m second phase of the larger £10m refurbishment plan sees this slinky new foyer extension to the theatre, a new box office, improved lift access to all floors of the building and a first floor terrace.
Helped by a £2.8m European Regional Development Fund grant matched with a loan from Liverpool City Council, donations from individual Trusts and a (willingly accepted) £1 per ticket levy, this is a refreshing model of how a theatre really can be built by the people. A real every man (and woman) theatre.
The improvements really do tread that tricky line between revamp and re imagining. This place had great Art Deco bones: it was just starting to show its age. Actually, it was showing its age when the Beastie Boys threw a strop (and a can of Special Brew) 30 years ago. So this second act is well overdue.
The renovation scheme has been designed by Paul Monaghan of Stirling Award winning architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris and Act 3 will begin in 2017.
“We’ve tried to bring out the best of the old building but also added dramatic new interventions like the new entrance pavilion,” Paul says
“Inside we’ve pulled all the finishes off the wall to expose the original brickwork and this provides a contemporary raw feel to the bars and foyers.
“The fact that the building is in my home city makes it a very special day for me personally.”
And it was money well spent. The auditorium is now the only purpose designed, art deco, cabaret-style theatre in the country. This laid-back new pre-show dining, take a drink to your seat in the stalls-style of show has certainly given the old girl a new spring in her step. And we confidently predict that balcony will be brilliant on those long autumn evenings.
“This refurbishment has been great for us and for our audience,” says
Gillian Miller, Chief Executive. “Both Mellwood and AHMM have worked very hard to create something that will benefit the whole city.”
She’s right. In working hard to reach out to those who, for whatever reason, our other spaces don’t connect with, the Royal Court’s built an audience numbering over 140,000 people each year. Over 95% of shows are created, produced and rehearsed in Liverpool.
For that, we’ll even forgive them for Brick Up The Mersey Tunnels.
1 Roe Street