Prepare for an ‘intense’ night of mystery and intrigue with a new play written by a talented member of staff at Liverpool Hope University.
Oliver Back is a Student Recruitment Officer at Hope who works in the bustling External Relations department.
But in his spare time Oliver is also a talented playwright, having previously come through the ‘Young Everyman Playhouse Writer's Programme’, which helps to develop and nurture the talents of young scribes.
Last October, one of his shows, SHEEP, sold out Liverpool’s Hope Street Theatre for three nights running.
And he’s following-up that success with ambitious new show Professional, which comes to the Hope Street Theatre from 17th - 19th February.
Oliver explains the plot concerns two hitmen holed-up in a budget hotel room. It’s inspired by films like In Bruges, directed by Martin McDonagh, as well as Harold Pinter’s play The Dumb Waiter.
He reveals Professional started life as a potential lockdown audio drama before it blossomed into something much bigger, and explains: “Professional sees two assassins waiting on a call from their boss - a call which will give them instructions about what their next assignment might be.
“These men might think that they’re the threat, the people to be feared, but what they don’t know is that danger is coming straight for them instead - a danger both physical and existential. Neither of them are willing to change who they are in a world that’s constantly shifting.”
The play is set in a hotel room in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, and Oliver says there’s a specific reason for that choice of location.
He adds: “When I attended the writer’s programme at the Everyman I was living in Loughborough and the rail route I used to take home would always demand a change in Nuneaton. I was often waiting there for an hour or more to catch my connecting train. It was always late at night. And I’d sometimes head to a bar for a drink and end up chatting to the locals.
“I grew really fascinated by the notion that you’ve got a huge amount of interest in Northern Powerhouse cities like Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester, as well as a huge pull towards London and the south.
“But then you also have lots of towns in the Midlands that sort of get forgotten about..
“On the face of it, there’s perhaps not much going on. But under the surface, there could be a whole lot more than members of the public might realise.”
And what can audiences expect from Professional?
Oliver reveals: “It’s intense, it’s atmospheric and it’s claustrophobic. There’s no interval - it’s an hour long, straight through - which I hope helps to really build tension.
“And the idea is for audience members to really become voyeurs, flies on the wall, as the action unfolds before them.
“I’m really excited that we’re able to bring Professional to the Hope Street Theatre.”
Professional is directed by Oliver’s long-term colleague Emma Turner, who is co-founder of their theatre company, Silent Gutter.
Emma and Oliver also have a new play coming up later this year - called Playtime - which will also debut at the Hope Street Theatre before they take it to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August.
Playtime is about a brother and sister fighting for survival in a post-apocalyptic world without energy, rules or hope, until one day they stumble upon a miraculously working television, just like the one they watched as children.