"IF only we had dramas like this when I was at school" has become a comment I now always associate with the Playhouse and Everyman - Liverpool's two creative hearts beating as one.

It's where I first saw a stunning Shakespeare version of Richard III and sat awe-struck by the inventiveness of Willy Russell's John, Paul, George, Ringo and Bert.

Informing and entertaining ever since - that's not a bad testimony The Making of Zong is the lastest thought-provoker to arrive and one that schools - especially - should consider for an educational outing.

The title makes an impact immediately as does this stunning two hour 15 minute piece of theatre.

So what is 'Zong?'

Two hundred years ago, Olaudah Equiano read the grotesque reports of a massacre aboard a Dutch slave ship of that very name, where 132 Africans were thrown overboard.

Human cargo ...

Joining forces with anti-slavery campaigner Granville Sharp to publicly condemn these actions, brave and passionate Equiano was a major player in turning the slow wheels which led to the abolition movement in the UK.

It is a true deeply disturbing story we are told from the very powerful start set in a modern day bookshop where one customer believes a certain title has been mis-filed.

A very clever intro, indeed. Giles Terera's debut play is more than a courtroom piece based on true historical events and Liverpool featuring prominently.

It is a story of the human spirit against adversity and correctly described as a 'journey' - a whirwlwind trip into the past.

It is superbly performed by an ensemble cast who are joined on stage by composer and musical director Sidiki Dembele - a one man percussion orchestra.

Commissioned by Bristol Old Vic and the National Theatre, it was presented in a staged reading in 2018.

The pandemic saw the planned 2020 production quickly reimagined as a radio play, aired on Radio 3 as part of the BBC's Lights Up season earlier this year.

Giles Terera himself is an acclaimed actor, musician, and filmmaker, who starred as Aaron Burr in the UK production of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton – The Musical, for which he won the 2018 Olivier Award for best actor in a musical.

All the cast here give, like Giles, 100 per cent - and it is clear that this is team work of the highest order.

Set design, visual imagery and compelling storytelling about the injustices of slavery bring this horrific and tragic story alive.


Globe verdict: Five stars - harrowing history

Until Saturday 0151 709 4776 Warning: This show contains distressing scenes, historical racial language, themes of slavery and violence and some strong language.

Some of the topics covered in The Meaning of Zong might be distressing for some audiences.

This play contains themes about the Transatlantic Slave Trade, historically accurate racial language and occasional scenes of characters in distress - alongside the theme of human resource and triumph