The Netherley Hillbillies

We’ve all been there, sat at home dreaming of winning big on the Lottery. And tonight, at Liverpool’s famous Royal Court, those dreams become reality for Netherley’s own, Jed Kennedy as the machine has revealed six of his lucky balls. This is a rags to riches tale of your bang average Scouse family who hit the jackpot and set off to find a lifestyle more befitting of the big-time (goodbye out-house, hello indoor toilet!)- but, shhh! don’t tell anybody- especially the neighbours. And, speaking of whom, what will their new neighbours, in the swanky coastal town of Formby, make of the new folk next door? And is all as shiny as it seems beneath the cut-glass exterior?

As to be expected with a Royal Court production, Barbara Phillips’ book is packed full of self-deprecating humour which pays homage to the city of Liverpool and all of its quirks. Where sometimes the script feels a little thin, this is made up for in abundance by the cast who bring life and colour to what otherwise could be a somewhat pedestrian story. This isn’t to say that the tale isn’t without its surprises, it’s just that some moments feel slightly malnourished.

The irrefutable star of the show is Royal Court favourite, Lynn Francis, who hits the jackpot as the matriarchal Renie (not Reneé- NEVER Reneé!). Francis storms the stage from the moment she stumbles into the spotlight, with her grandfather’s clock in hand. The physicality of her performance is something to behold and light work is made of punchlines which are generously bestowed upon her to deliver. Thankfully, on her watch, not one beat is missed.

Brookside’s award-winning Sarah White effortlessly finds her feet as wife, mother and daughter, Lisa. Delivered with a confident subtlety, her comedic timing is well-articulated and natural chemistry bubbles between her and the freshly minted Jed (Paul Duckworth).

Initially impressive, the revolving set (with design by Alfie Heywood and aided brilliantly by Jamie Jenkin’s Video Design) transports us from the characterful Netherley to the wealthy Formby. Meticulously crafted, visually the set pieces are faultless. Realism is delivered to a high standard, though it does become slightly one note as the revolutions persist and we travel from back garden to back garden, only ever with the slightest glimpse into the interior of the homes to which so much of the narratorial focus is pinned upon.

Musical moments are littered throughout the show and, whilst they can sometimes feel a little shoe-horned in, they do help to provide the additional light-hearted moments that patrons have come to expect from a Royal Court offering.

While it’s not perfect, it cannot be in doubt that The Netherley Hillbillies is sure to be another home-grown hit for The Royal Court. It may not go down in the history books as being the most original (nor even the most hilarious) offering from this stalwart of a venue, yet with a strong cast and a legion of loyal clientele eagerly awaiting their next night at ‘The Court’, you just know that there’s a good time for many, waiting to be had.

This show was reviewed on the 30th May 2024 at Liverpool's Royal Court where the show runs until the 22nd June 2024.  Tickets available here: The Netherley Hillbillies - Royal Court (

Review written by Lee Gregory


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