THE LIVERPOOL ECHO - The Wrong Boy
There was a time, a full generation ago, when Willy Russell mingled
anonymously with Liverpool theatregoers. But literary sainthood
has a price and does away with privacy.
Last night's capacity audience
to hear the Blood Brothers creator read from his first novel
included at least one high court judge.
Hero of the new tome, The Wrong
Boy, is a 19-year old from suburban Manchester, writing an epistle
of faith, hope and some considerable charity to his hero, the
The literary result is Adrian
Mole with attitude.
The singular narrative removes
the need for inter-character explanations. So the words read
like a great dramatic monologue, allowing Willy Russell, instinctive
playwright, to still shine through.
To this, is added various naturally suggestive tempos, as a musical
composer may do.
For instance, slow when making
a sentimental point, fast when indulging in a litany of complaint
of an outburst of joy.
What truly made the event is
that Willy is a great performer, as well as a delicious writer
with still quite political insight.
Like Alan Bennett, he can bring
his own texts to life.
He once stood in for John Conteh
as narrator in his early Beatles musical John, Paul, George,
Ringo and Bert.
Then he astounded us by replacing
the indisposed Noreen Kershaw in the premiere run of Shirley
Nowadays - still with the recognisable
helmet of hair, silvered into distinction - he looks positively
The frock-coated suit even
hearkens back to Dickens (who also expertly read his own material).
Willy's manner was friendly, but still schoolmasterly: perhaps
we could have all been given a page to read?
But if Willy Russell were a
full-time teacher, pupils would be queuing up to learn.
He has never lost that infectious
enthusiasm, which makes good writing sound as if it's as easy
as washing the dishes - but everyone knows, it's as specialised
as cutting a diamond.