In 1990, a Scouser named Dave Thelwell and his three mates decided to take on a job in Iraq painting Saddam Hussein’s palace — only for Britain to declare war on the country, resulting in them being held hostage and unable to leave! It’s not often you come across a story line like that and, with various twists and drama, it makes for a very entertaining theatre performance! “More Scouse, Saddam?” is a play based on that true story about the Scousers’ Iraqi escapade and is written and directed by Mike Howl, whilst ironically starring Dave Thelwell himself as the Iraqi dictator.

We enjoyed last year’s Liverpool show so much that we decided to come back for more this year — this time at The Casa, situated on the iconic Hope Street in the heart of Liverpool’s theatre district. Since our last experience, the show had since been successful at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016 and will be appearing this year at the Liverpool Fringe Festival between 17th and 19th June, such is its popularity. Our second viewing of the comedy drama, featuring a slightly altered yet equally talented cast, was indeed as entertaining as the first time around.

From the first scene, we are taken back to 1990 Liverpool with nostalgic music from the time and that classic 1990 dress sense. Straight away we get thrust into the social dynamics of the characters — the drinking culture, the banter and the relationships between the lads and their girls. Jokes and Scouse humour are in abundance and the audience becomes familiar with the likeable characters very quickly — the cast were very vocal and dramatic from the outset. Drama soon ensues as Dave Thelwell (Andrew Games) and his mates (Emmett Meehan and Daryl Blackburn) take on the job in Iraq and we are transported there with them, with Saddam Hussein (Dave Thelwell) popping up on stage here and there in menacing fashion.

Drama is enveloped by Scouse wit as the tale unfolds in a quirky way and we learn of declaration of war and the lads being held captive in Iraq. In true stereotypical Scouse style, furniture is stolen from Saddam’s palace and the lads seek refuge in a cheap hotel — promptly turning it into an underground night club for fellow Brits who are also stranded out there. The cast were energetic and passionate throughout and it was impossible not to be heavily engaged emotionally with the characters they portrayed. Improvisation was at its best when Saddam’s mustache fell off and had to be slapped back on and the cast were clearly enjoying themselves throughout the performance.

After much debacle and drinking from the hostages, things take a turn as the girls back home start a campaign via World In Action to get their boys home safe. The intense emotion of the situation was communicated wonderfully by the cast and we were on the edges of our seats as the reunion of the boys with their girls came about in dramatic style. From the first scene to the last, this play was once again an enthralling account of a remarkable Scouse meets Iraq story. Liverpool’s music scene is shouted about so vocally, however it is important to remember the city’s thriving theatre scene and the talented actors who star in them. Bravo!

Written & Directed by Mike Howl

Cast: Andrew Games, Emmett Meehan, Daryl Blackburn, Ciara O’Neill, Jazz Jago, Murphy Rhodes, Rosie O’Neill, Faye Draper, Dave Thelwell