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Acclaimed Hillsborough Drama Returns To Liverpool At The Olympia

97+ puts survivors’ stories centre stage in a compelling new full-length production being premiered at the city’s Olympia

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


97+ is written and directed by Tom Cain and co-produced by Tom Cain Theatre and Bill Elms Productions, in collaboration with the Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance.


The theatrical drama, which in a shorter version previously won acclaim at Liverpool Theatre Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe, is being premiered at the Liverpool Olympia for one night only on Friday 12 April, just ahead of the 35th anniversary of the football disaster which claimed the lives of 97 Liverpool fans.


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.


Yet despite countless setbacks, the Hillsborough survivors continue their fight for justice.


Tom researched and wrote the drama while a student at Edge Hill University and with the assistance of the Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance which provides a Hillsborough Transformational Recovery Model – a therapy set up by survivors intended to help other survivors.


It was presented as a 90-minute play at Liverpool Theatre Festival’s Little LTF platform for new writing in 2022, with the sensitive but hard-hitting story winning 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. Each performance has helped raise money for the survivors’ charity.


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

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.


Liz is played by Claudia Molyneux, who also appeared in the play in Edinburgh and Buxton, while Alice McKillop returns to the role of nurse Nancy as well as playing a new character, Charlotte, and Julie McCabe – who previously appeared at Liverpool Theatre Festival as Liz – will take on the new part of Sally.


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


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 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.


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


Tom, said: “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, 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.


Bill added: “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.


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


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