On Saturday April 15th 1989, over 3000 faithful Liverpool FC supporters made the journey to Sheffield Wednesday’s home ground of Hillsborough to see their team take on Nottingham Forrest in the FA cup semi-final. What should have been a normal Saturday of sport turned into a tragedy. 766 fans were injured and 96 never came home again. The events of Hillsborough are once again in the public focus following the release of the Hillsborough Independent Panel Report. Bottleneck joins a variety of productions spurred by these new inquests, but this show stands out. For once, it’s not about the politics, the cover ups, or the long fight for justice. This is a moving, personal story.

The final 10 minutes of play are a tour de force in accomplished writing, performing, and direction as Greg vents his grief for friends lost to forces beyond his control

Bottleneck is a one-man show focusing on Greg, a young football-loving lad growing up in 80s Liverpool. Greg’s favourite sport is tarred by hooliganism, but for him it’s about discovering who you are and creating relationships. Unfortunately, Greg’s relationship with his father is often marred by violence as Greg pushes him to the limits. Greg is grounded but sneaks out and heads for Hillsborough. The play takes us through the build-up to the tragedy, its dramatic unfolding, and its aftermath. Hillsborough leaves not only one young man but an entire generation changed forever.

Luke Barnes’ script is taut and emotionally flowing, but on occasion relies a bit too heavily on homophobic slang, which can be uncomfortable. It does, however, make the audience realise how easy it was for the police force to paint fans as culprits in the tragedy, even though blame rested solely on the shoulders of those in charge of an unsafe football stadium.

James Cooney delivers a powerhouse performance as Greg, fully conveying the excitement of youth and the sobering realisation that a life can end in a flash. The final 10 minutes of play are a tour de force in accomplished writing, performing, and direction as Greg vents his grief for friends lost to forces beyond his control.

This play’s honesty truly shines. Bottleneck makes for an unforgettable hour at the Fringe and leaves audiences aware that the Hillsborough victims deserved better. Now, at long last, it seems justice is within sight and this show makes for a moving tribute.

Reviews by Brett Herriot

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

Alba - A New Scottish Musical

St Andrew's and St George's West, George St

Anthems - West End Showstoppers

St Andrew's and St George's West, George St

Fringe Fantasmic!

The Assembly Rooms

Don't Tell Him Pike

Paradise in Augustines

Miss Saigon School Edition


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Back by popular demand, HighTide Festival Theatre presents Bottleneck by Luke Barnes. ‘Bottleneck is an outstanding play’ **** (Telegraph). Am I a virgin? I think I am. I mean it went in her but it was floppy and not very nice so I think I'm a virgin. I'm going to say I am. Will look better on my uni applications. Liverpool, 1989. Greg is fourteen. He earns pocket money sweeping up hair in barbers. Girls are aliens. Liverpool FC is everything. 'Performed with poise and seemingly endless energy by James Cooney' **** (Scotsman).

Most Popular See More

Mamma Mia!

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £39.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Frozen the Musical

From £36.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets