A brand new production of Masquerade – a play telling a powerful and emotional tale set in an iconic Liverpool gay club in the 1980s – is coming to the city’s Epstein Theatre this autumn.
Masquerade is a poignant tale of love and loss among Liverpool’s LGBT+ community.
Following a successful run at the Royal Court Studio in 2019, the acclaimed play written by Laura Lees is back in a new electrifying and reimagined staging, with Liverpool’s queer history at its heart. The creative team has been announced, the full cast will be revealed shortly.
Masquerade is produced by Bill Elms (Something About George/Simon, Swan Song, The Ruby Slippers), and directed by James Baker (Cherry Jezebel, Yank, Parade). Most recently, Bill and James worked together on productions Jerry Springer The Opera and 2Gorgeous4U.
The play tells a fictional story based around the now demolished iconic Cases Street venue, affectionately known as The Mazzie, which was frequented at the time by famous faces including Holly Johnson, Paul O’Grady, Paul Rutherford, and Margi Clarke.
Masquerade – where inside was the place to be out. Mike loves Tony (but not like that). He’s his best mate. To be confident, outgoing, and open is a big deal in a city like Liverpool in 1986 especially during the Aids crisis. When they discover The Masquerade Club with trepidation, Mike gets a taste of the life he could and should be living. He is welcomed with open arms, soon becoming the resident DJ in a club that becomes the centre of his universe. But their paths go in separate directions. Outside of the club walls he needs to find the courage to tell his parents that he is not the son they want him to be. Will he find the strength to stand up for himself especially when tragedy strikes?
Writer Laura Lees commented, “I was aware that my uncle Mark had been a DJ in the club when he was younger so I asked him about it, at which point he opened up and gave me an insight into The Masquerade. I instantly fell in love with its story and wanted to know everything there was to know about it. While doing the research, I found that most people were happy to reminisce because it was such a wonderful time in their lives. However, it was equally bittersweet as it was also a time of pain when Aids was hitting the gay community.
“I want to take audiences on a journey through an important period for the LGBT community – an uplifting story that would resonate with anyone who has ever experienced the excitement and terror of a first love. What it was like to be young and gay in a hostile society. Also, to honour the victims that paid the price for being alive, and to give hope to anyone who is afraid to be whomever they want to be. Everyone has a right to love and happiness, and you only get one chance to be true.
“Working with Tom Lloyd has been priceless. It feels like I am looking at the script for the first time as he has given me a fresh perspective and new ideas. I am excited to see the vision that James Baker has and what the end result will be. I am delighted to be a sharing this new version of this play with true friendship, love, family and pain being at the heart of it.”
Director James Baker added, “I’m really excited to be directing a new incarnation of this play, which has its DNA firmly rooted in the queer history of Liverpool and the iconic Masquerade. The play will be a feast for the heart and celebrate the very nature of what it means to be free from oppression and live your own truth. Get ready to experience a night out like no other!”
Producer Bill Elms of Bill Elms Productions Ltd and Artistic Director of Epstein Theatre continues, “I am excited to be presenting this new work along with a dynamic and talented creative team. Together, we will build on the much-loved Royal Court Studio piece to create a full stage production of this brilliant piece of writing for the newly reopened Epstein Theatre, with an aim and focus to give the show a future life.
“Even though the play was originally staged before television series It’s A Sin, anyone who loved the programme will love Masquerade – and I cannot wait to see the audience reactions and what they think of the new version of the show. I know they are in for a treat.”
Masquerade will run at the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool from Tuesday 22 November to Saturday 26 November 2022 for just eight performances. Tickets are priced from £20 and are on sale now.