Boisterous Theatre Co.’s debut production is a modern adaptation by Maurice Bessman of Bouncers, John Godber’s classic 1977 play covering an evening working the doors of a nightclub for four bored doormen and their likely clientele: four young beer swilling lads hoping to get lucky and four excitable teenage girls out for a bit of dancing, drinking, and whatever the eye might fancy, including visits to the hairdressers and fast food vendors, with a live DJ Spykatcha (Shawn John) thrown in for free.
What makes this a clever piece of theatre is that all the roles are portrayed by our four bouncers – Judd (Mutty Burman), Les (Michael Horsley), Lucky Eric (Joe Speare), and Ralph (Zain Salim) – who with a simple set, minimal props, and no costume changes, inject their all to give us an evening of high energy entertainment full of funk.
Under the direction of Miriam Mussa, the interchanges are numerous and executed smoothly through voice changes and recognisable physical actions, which reinforced by subtle lighting adjustments are more than enough to tell you who is being represented. To move between burly bouncer, giggly girl, and brawling boy in the blink of an eye demands a high level of skill and dexterity and we were not let down with polished performances from all four of the cast aided by some superb and perfectly timed choreography that included dance routines through to slow motion fight scenes and a ‘rewind’. Within this frenzy of funk and fusion, we also have some monologues from the elder, experienced Eric which provide a sombre contrast to the excitement and energy of a night out that often extends to binge drinking, casual sex, and violence.
Bessman’s adaptation – with the blessing of Godber - respects the principles of the original whilst bringing it up to date with reflections of modern life: social media; internet; dress; and conversational style, although the latter still revolves around beer, sex, and more beer: some things will never change. Although I thought the first half was slightly overlong and took some stereotypes a little further than was necessary, consummate performances and strong rhythms ensure one can’t help but join in tapping to the beat and blushing slightly at some of the very recognisable antics captured in the superb characterisation and hoping no one else remembers what you used to be like. Most importantly it still captures the raw power of the original: one can’t but help come away with the realisation that for all the hype each of the characters outwardly displays in this very funny play, their lives are ultimately desperately empty as they seek salvation or solace from their night out.
Bouncers is performing at Liverpool’s Royal Court through to 15th September 2018. I can guarantee you an evening of laugh out-loud entertainment, but I would challenge you to look that little bit closer as well – amidst the humour is a strong social message cleverly delivered. Tickets are priced at £10. Stall tickets are available with a meal (served at your table before the show) for an extra £12 which I can highly recommend. Tickets are available at http://www.royalcourtliverpool.co.uk/ or via the Box Office on 0151 709 4321.
The Royal Court formally opened in 1881 but following a fire, it was rebuilt in its current Art Deco style, opening in 1938 and was Grade II listed in 1990. It has an audience capacity of almost 1,200 and since 2007 has focused on producing its own theatre which has included several celebrated plays. Further details on forthcoming productions http://www.royalcourtliverpool.co.uk/
Reviewer: Mark Davoren
Reviewed: 3rd September 2018
North West End Rating: ★★★★