Edge Hill alumnus’ Hillsborough production returns to Liverpool this week

A powerful play which explores the ongoing impact of Hillsborough on those who survived the disaster is returning to Liverpool on Friday 12 April in a new full-length production.

97+ is written and directed by Tom Cain, who researched and wrote the drama while he was student at Edge Hill University in Ormskirk. 

Tom wrote the drama with the assistance of the Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance, which provides a Hillsborough Transformation Recovery Model – a therapy set up by survivors to help other survivors.

The Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance have collaborated with Tom and the drama’s co-producers, Tom Cain Theatre and Bill Elms Productions, for this week’s showing.

Originally presented as a 90-minute play at Liverpool Theatre Festival’s Little LTF platform for new writing in 2022, the sensitive but hard-hitting story won plaudits from both critics and audiences.

It was so successful it went on to be staged at the main Liverpool Theatre Festival in 2022 before being taken to Edinburgh and the Buxton Fringe Festival last summer, which helped the drama gain an international audience. Each performance has helped raise money for the survivor’s charity.

Now Tom, whose own grandfather was a Hillsborough survivor, has revisited the drama to present it as a full-length version.

For one night only, the theatrical drama is being premiered at the Liverpool Olympia, just ahead of the 35th anniversary of the football disaster which claimed the lives of 97 Liverpool fans.

Tom Cain said: “To think this was something I originally wrote during lockdown for my Edge Hill University drama dissertation, to performing shorter editions of the piece…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.”

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 his wife 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.

'Steve lives alone but seeks help from the hospital, or a vodka bottle' -
‘Steve lives alone but seeks help from the hospital, or a vodka bottle’ – Image by David Munn Photography

Despite countless setbacks, the Hillsborough survivors continue to fight for justice.

Several actors are returning to reprise their roles or to play new characters in this latest production, including Colin Kilbride who returns to the role of John, and Leslie Longley as Steve.

Bill Elms, of Bill Elms Productions which co-produces 97+, said: “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.”

Doors will open at 7pm on 12 April. To find out more about tickets, click here

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