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This exuberant, high energy verbatim theatre piece is about young people living and growing up in Toxteth in Liverpool. And in a neat twist to the verbatim genre – where the script is created from interviews with real people – it’s also performed by them too.
The young Liverpudlian theatre company 20 Stories High explain at the beginning of 'Tales From The MP3' how the show will work. Each of the actors listen to recordings of each other on their headphones and they speak the words they hear as they were originally delivered. They don’t play themselves, they play other people in the group.
What follows is a series of frank, open discussions about a variety of subjects affecting the cast today. Titles pre-empt the scenes – 'Bodies’, ‘Race’, ‘Sexuality’ and ones that are more specific still. When the conversations start up, it feels as if we’re listening to the company's private moments together, where they argue, point fingers, get angry and laugh.
It takes guts to appear in a piece as truthful as this. The performers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and each have stories to tell – from the boy who was thrown down the stairs by his father as a baby, to the one who suffered bullying at school as a result of his learning difficulties.
Along with some of the more shocking tales, there are plenty of funny ones, where the performers’ natural charm and charisma shine though. There’s not anything ground-breaking here, and moments in ‘Tales From the MP3’ lack a sense of dramatic climax, but it makes for enjoyable, life-affirming watching nonetheless.