Four ‘birds’ – three from Merseyside and one Cockney – leave the Kirkby Munitions Factory, where they work, for a night on the town in wartime Liverpool. The events of that night will change their own lives, the life of the city and the impact of the War on Britain, forever. Each of the Liver birds follows a different path over the course of these few hours. But, everybody – on stage and off – is touched by the battles and heroics that they are caught-up in.
Maggs Williams is the feisty and, apparently, hard-hearted leader of the birds. She holds a dark secret, beneath her tough exterior, which only emerges as the play reaches its climax. Carla Evans is a more gentle-spirited bird. She is tireless in her desire to hold everyone together. But, the events of that night are catastrophic for Carla.
Daisy Mae Beech is a naïve, love-sick bird, waiting for her beloved Francis to return from the war in North Africa. For Daisy, the events of that night lead to an irrevocable change in her, which means that life can never be the same. Whilst, for Cockney Lil, her fateful introduction to the Liver birds circle means that Liverpool becomes a new home, in which she can fly more freely than ever before.
We meet the Liver birds at their factory, discovering how they fight together, meeting the threats that they each face. It is just a few weeks before Christmas and many Liverpool kids are being prepared for their evacuation. The birds are determined to have fun. At the same time, air raids by the Nazi Luftwaffe are rapidly increasing in this vital port city. There are US merchant marines at the docks, wanting a good time. Families are fearful and some are falling apart. At the close of the Act each of the birds is beginning to fly in a new direction.
The entire city seems expectant. The trams are full. The nightclubs are heaving. But, as the bombs drop, the Durning Road air raid shelter fills with people from the city, as the nightclubs disgorge the birds to their separate fates. All the birds are separated and their songs become increasingly plaintive, in that dark-filled night.
The events at Durning Road draw the lives of the birds back together, for better or worse. And these reverberate throughout the city, affecting all those involved, and reaching across the nation, as far as Downing Street itself. By the end, each of the birds has found a new place of peace and rest.
There is love, jealousy, violence and tears. But, above all, there are a lorra, lorra laughs, before all the birds’ songs are sung and their flights, over that night, resolved.