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Acclaimed Hillsborough Drama returns to Liverpool at The Olympia

This spring, a new full-length production of a poignant play that delves into the lasting impact of the Hillsborough tragedy on its survivors is coming back to Liverpool.

Tom Cain wrote and directed 97+. The production is a collaborative effort between Tom Cain Theatre, Bill Elms Productions, and the Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance, with Tom Cain and Bill Elms as co-producers.

Acclaimed Hillsborough Drama returns to Liverpool at The Olympia

The drama that was previously praised at Liverpool Theatre Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe, but in a shorter version, is now being premiered at Liverpool Olympia for one night only on Friday 12 April. This is happening just before the 35th anniversary of the tragic football incident that resulted in the loss of 97 Liverpool fans’ lives.

Set in 2012, Hillsborough survivors John and Steve, now middle-aged men, are each still dealing with the trauma they suffered as boys 23 years before.

John bottles up his emotions, only letting wife Liz see them as he suffers night terrors but avoids seeking treatment, while Steve lives alone but seeks help from the hospital, or a vodka bottle, as his support mechanisms.

The survivors of the Hillsborough tragedy have faced numerous obstacles, but they persist in their quest for justice.

Acclaimed Hillsborough Drama returns to Liverpool at The Olympia
Acclaimed Hillsborough Drama returns to Liverpool at The Olympia

As a student at Edge Hill University, Tom conducted research and penned the drama. He received support from the Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance, which offers a Hillsborough Transformational Recovery Model – a therapy program designed by survivors to aid fellow survivors.

In 2022, a 90-minute play was showcased at the Little LTF platform for new writing in Liverpool Theatre Festival. The play’s story was both sensitive and hard-hitting, which earned it praise from both critics and audiences.

In 2022, the play was incredibly successful and was subsequently performed at the primary Liverpool Theatre Festival. Later that summer, it was presented at both the Edinburgh and Buxton Fringe Festivals, with all performances contributing to the survivors’ charity.

Tom, who has a personal connection to the Hillsborough tragedy through his grandfather, has produced a full-length version of the event.

The latest production features the return of several actors who will either reprise their roles or play new characters. Among them are Colin Kilbride, who is returning to play John, and Leslie Longley, who will be playing Steve.

Claudia Molyneux, who had already appeared in the play in Edinburgh and Buxton, plays the character of Liz. Alice McKillop returns to portray the role of nurse Nancy and also takes on a new character named Charlotte. Julie McCabe, who previously played Liz at Liverpool Theatre Festival, will now be seen in the role of Sally.

The cast is completed by new member Graham Padden as Stuart.

Tom Cain says: 

“To think this was something I originally wrote during lockdown for my Edge Hill University drama dissertation, to performing shorter editions of the piece at Liverpool Theatre Festival, Edge Hill and even outside Merseyside at the Buxton and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals – where we were able to gain an international audience, to now playing at such an incredible venue as the Liverpool Olympia. It’s truly a dream come true.

“Educating audiences on the TRUTH of Hillsborough and raising awareness for survivors still suffering trauma.

“To have had the continuous support of the Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance and to have raised money for this charity means everything to me. I’m proud of the work we’ve produced. And I hope I’ve made my grandad, who was a Hillsborough survivor himself, proud too.”

Bill Elms adds: 

“I’m delighted this play is going from strength to strength; it’s a powerful piece and a story that needs to be told to a new generation.

“It’s had nothing but praise from critics and audiences alike and I’m proud to continue to support Tom’s work, having been selected to be performed at Little LTF, then winning a place at the main Liverpool Theatre Festival in 2022.

“We’re now working together to present this new, full two-act play at the Olympia.”


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