Billy Liar Review 2

By Jo Rymer for NODA

Billy Fisher first appeared in Keith Waterhouse’s & Willis Halls 1959 novel ‘Billy Liar’ and transferred to the stage the following year at the Cambridge Theatre London

A young clerk escapes his crushingly dull existence by creating an imaginary world where he is the ultimate ruler. Billy Fisher genuinely believes he might at any moment rise above the stifling boredom of his northern, working-class upbringing and put his talent to use as a scriptwriter in London.

Billy Fisher (Danny Myers) lives with his parents Geoffrey (Kevin Fishwick) and Alice (Marie Williams) and his grandmother Florence (Julie Little) in Stradhoughton in the North of England, working as a clerk at an undertaker’s. The only issue however Billy appears unable to tell the truth, making up tall tales about his work, neighbours’, illnesses, obsessing about leg amputation and pregnancies, indeed anything to impress people or avoid work. His friend Arthur Crabtree (Mike Jones) warns Billy that there have been financial discrepancies in his postal book and he could be facing disciplinary proceedings. Mike gave a fine performance aware of Billy’s frailties but nonetheless proved to be a loyal friend.

A new director to BDS Adam Comer did very well with this undoubtably play of its time, with attitudes towards things like sex, marriage and getting a decent job, grandmothers off colour remarks about black doctors do seem to belong to a far-off age. The set gives a good impression of the living room of a 1960 northern house, it is perfect for the action needed in this production, reversing the flats for the outdoor scene worked very well. Well done, stage crew.

Julie Little gives a fine performance as Florence, getting the laughs for inappropriate references, talking to the sideboard then complains a lot about her grandsons’ inability to get out of bed in the morning, or does he ever wash his neck. Great comedic performance.

As Billy’s mum, Marie Williams has a marvellously maternal ability to stop her son’s hyperactive imagination in its tracks: “You’ll need a clean shirt. They don’t have dirty necks on the BBC, absolute gems. Well done, Marie. Billy’s dad the consummate character actor Kevin Fishwick, gives a convincing performance of a father who believes his son to be a feckless layabout. A fine performance from Kevin.

We then find out that Billy is actually engaged to two girls at once, the homely Barbara (Hannah Lewin) who Mum approves of, and the common, raucous Rita (Jenny Jones). Billy is in s pickle as the engagement ring he has given to Barbara initially he gave to Rita who thinks it is in the jewellers being refitted and is expecting it back.!!  Chaos ensues, almost farce like comedy. Add to the mix ex-girlfriend Liz (Fiona Williams). Billy appears to be really smitten with Liz, who says she will accompany him to London to start his life as a scriptwriter to a famous comedian Danny Booth. He packs his case, leaves the house for the train station… we next see him asleep on the coach back at home being covered by a blanket by his father. A lovely lovely scene.

This production is carried, though, by a splendid performance from Danny Myers as Billy, who completely relaxes into the part and appears totally believable throughout. What a debut for Danny with BDS definitely one to watch for the future. Congratulations Danny.

I always watch and listen to the audience, as it is their response to a production that counts. They loved it, what a great evenings’ entertainment. Really looking forward to Cuckoo’s Nest next year.