THE director of this stage adaptation of the 2016 Ken Loach film wants to give audiences the H word. .. in this (heartfelt) case - hope, humour and humanity.

Mark Calvert and his exceptional cast of six certainly achieve that and much more.

Social commentary is very much in the Merseyside air.

The neighbouring Liverpool Royal Court is currently hosting an adaptation of the ground-breaking Alan Bleasdale 1982 TV masterpiece Boys from the Blackstuff.

And, rather timely, this theatrical co-tour by ETT and Northern Stage stresses that governments come and go but nothing actually changes.

Poverty and unemployment remain.

I, Daniel Blake has been updated for 2023 with an emphasis on the cost of living crisis.

A no-holds-drama for those who want passion in storytelling and not preaching.

Dave Johns - who played Daniel in the film written by Paul Laverty - has adapted the story featuring some much-needed gentle humour amid the bleakness.

The leading role of Daniel - a likeable carpenter and widower is played by David Nellist.

Daniel is a 59-year-old Geordie with a metaphorical heart of gold whose own heart problems meant he was deemed unfit to work according to his doctor.

But the benefits office doesn't agree.

We see him wrapped up in red tape as the system frustrates him at every turn.

And in the same financial leaky boat is single mum Katie Jenkins portrayed by Bryony Corrigan with the right balance of angst, desperation and optimism alongside daughter Daisy (Jodie Wild).

The ensemble of Janine Leigh, Nicky Cochrane and Kema Sikazwe also show great versatility.

We are shown newspaper headlines, texts and quotes from politicians on a back projection screen - real soundbytes from the likes of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

It all takes place on a skeletal set where simple shelving sets the scene for everything from an office to a garden centre.

Music is suitably atmospheric.

I, Daniel Blake holds up a mirror to society... showing where the glass has been shattered and continues to cut the most vulnerable.

This well-paced, powerful production received a well-earned standing ovation.

Four stars - punchy and poignant

It is The Playhouse until Saturday, September 23.

Tickets from 0151 709 4776 or here

Please note The Playhouse welcomes the donation of items for a food bank collection until the run ends on Saturday.