Event: Liverpool Theatre Festival Of New Works
Location: Bombed Out Church, Liverpool
Date: Friday July 16 2021
Running Time: 70 Minutes
Age Rating: 13+
Performers: Carl Rice
Production Company: Bill Elms Associates
Writer: Carl Rice
Director: Adam Gillen
This is our theatre review for Superstar at Liverpool‘s Bombed Out Church. Now, this is the eighth show of Liverpool Theatre Festival Of New Works 2021. So, let’s take a look at Superstar!
This one-man show sees Carl Rice bring to life the intense and dangerous Duke Harley. From the beginning, we see him pace around a small hostel room, almost akin to a prison cell. He has a bed, a mirror (which he often looks into while adjusting his jeans) and a side drawer. But little else. Oh, he does have a camcorder on a tripod, which the hostel team are graciously lending him. And Duke takes little time in beginning a recording that he envisions being watched live online. It becomes evident quickly that this is less of him showcasing his skills and more about him baring his soul.
Indeed, we hear him discussing everything from his childhood memories to some locals that get under his skin. He also discusses Stacey McAllister, the girl that he would meet at school and become partners with. Unfortunately, both would run into problems that would see them make sacrifices. But that’s when the unthinkable would occur. Duke delves into a life-changing situation and its aftermath, which eventually brings us to the present moment. Over the running time, he reveals all, almost as if he knows this is his only opportunity to do so. However, we also wonder who his message is really aimed at. And it also has us wondering how we would handle the same situations as Duke finds himself in.
Duke Harley tackles themes such as domestic abuse, assault, drugs and murder across this hour. Furthermore, he has a skinhead and tattoos and often talks as if he’s losing some level of self-control. So, it’s easy to assume that this is a show seeking to be dark and depressing. But that could not be further from the truth, as appearances are deceiving. Yes, there are sad moments, but they are greatly outnumbered by the understated humour from this riotous show. Indeed, Harley is truly hilarious with one brutal line after another. Many are about those in his social circles, some are about the local area, and some are about celebrities. But each of them has the audience laughing, with many lines getting enormous responses. My personal favourite was his ad-lib at the seagulls that have been flying over the festival all week.
I also like the idea of him recording to a camcorder with a clear, yet unspecifiable, time limit. For it creates a sense of urgency, even as Duke goes off into a plethora of random tangents. There’s a reminder that something, somehow, requires him to get the word out about his life story quickly. And who knows what the consequences might be if he fails to do so? I also appreciate the various twists during the final third, which I won’t spoil here. But suffice it to say that you need to see this show until the very end. And in some ways, it’s an appropriate way to cap off this show.
Incidentally, unlike other shows during the festival, I feel the 60-minute run-time is ideal, as it ties in with Duke running out of minutes and seconds. Mind you, I could have easily sat back and heard Duke talk for another hour, so entertaining was he.
So, how would we react to Duke Harley’s various perilous situations? I’m not sure if I have the answer to that question, but I can answer another question. Should you see Superstar? Yes, absolutely, and possibly several times. Superstar is a fantastic show and one I enjoyed from start to finish. Make sure to see this one if it tours in the future because it’s as compelling and unpredictable as any live show that you will see.
Target Audience: 18+
Content: Frequent Very Strong Language
Overall Rating: 10/10 – Perfect
Superstar Further Links
Liverpool Theatre Festival Of New Works 2021 continues at the Bombed Out Church until Sunday July 18 2021. So, to purchase tickets, please click here.
Did you see Superstar? Let us know by leaving a comment below!