Bouncers Review – Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool

Image Source: Royal Court Theatre

Show: Bouncers
Location: Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool
Dates: Wednesday August 18-Saturday September 11 2021
Times: 14.00 & 20.00
Running Time: 150 Minutes
Age Rating: 14+
Performers: Mutty Burman, Michael Horsley, Zain Salim, Joe Speare & DJ Spykatcha
Production Company: Boisterous
Writer: John Godber
Director: Miriam Mussa

Our latest theatre review is for Bouncers at Liverpool‘s Royal Court Theatre. The show runs from Wednesday August 18 to Saturday September 11 2021. So, let’s take a look at Bouncers!

Bouncers

Synopsis

Who has the combination of technical gifts and compulsory security training badges on the arms? Along with digital headsets wiring to establish their control to boot? Our Bouncers, that’s who! Or, rather, our 21st century Door Supervisors. Either way, we see them as they prepare for another night. Now, that night could include anything from friends enjoying themselves to parties to near-tragedies. In any event, the four guys are there to provide customer service and to quell any trouble before it escalates.

Ralph, Les, Judd and Lucky Eric are there to handle everything from laughter to tears to tension to beers. And they’re a cast which can not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. Oh, did we mention that they could dance too? Yes, the show has a modern soundtrack with pitch-perfect vocals, along with great acting and touching realism. Indeed, many in attendance may conjure up memories of their own nights out in Liverpool when watching this show. And the four guys are about to tell you all about theirs.

Analysis

You may have seen Bouncers, but have you seen Bouncers?

Imagine taking an iconic John Godber play. A piece of theatre which was written in the late seventies, adapted by Godber himself over the coming decades to keep it current and you’re then going to adapt it further. Making it relevant in a world of Tinder, Covid and Gender Fluidity. Quite the task for a brand new theatre company. And yet, that’s what Maurice & Miriam Mussa have done. 

The co-founders of Boisterous Theatre Company have hit the ground running with their first play and while on the surface one may see such a move as a huge gamble, it’s much more calculated. Bouncers is known. It’s a well-loved play. What’s more, it’s seen countless updates since its inception so this is just another one. 

Except it isn’t, because none of the changes in this version are Godber’s. (Although John Godber was consulted in the process).

Bouncers will put bums on seats and for a newly formed company, that’s what you need. What you do once you’ve got those posteriors parked is a whole different matter. The Bouncers of old were in Tuxedos. Now they’re in full black, stab vest-tightened shirts and the familiar fluorescent SIA License holder strapped round a bicep. Our lads are right up to date. And what lads they are.

Story

The beauty of this show is you have in front of you what you’ve already seen hundreds of in the past. Door staff. Rock solid, hard as nails with an instant banter and no-nonsense attitude. You’ve made your assumptions before the first word is spoken. Which is why, when they break into song and dance, you’re taken by surprise. Four lads throwing the shapes any 16 year old teen in her bedroom would be proud of. And you’re instantly proud of them. 

They switch from their ‘default’ bouncer character to a whole host of persona. An array of roles we’ve all seen played out in pubs and clubs across the years. The fellas who, although fresh out of the barbers, could do with a pack of chewies between them, the gang of girls purely up for a good night out after leaving the salon and the rugby lads who will pretty much bring devastation wherever they go. Lads, Lads, Lads! In addition to DJ Spaykatch (Shawn John) who takes care of the setlist for the evening (and what a setlist), there’s only four on stage and yet, the way in which these four players mould themselves into the various roles is seamless.

Lucky Eric (Joe Speare) is the most seasoned doorman of the four. The one who truly has seen it all and as such, is in no hurry, takes it all in his stride and seemingly rules with his words. Not least, in his speeches; ‘Eric’s speeches’ which are announced by the rest of the cast to prepare us for them. And yet when Speare switches to one of the girls on a night out. A self-proclaimed ‘fuller lady’, he’s infectious. Cute even.

Characters

Les (Michael Horsley) is flawless in all of the characters he embodies. Not least the rugby lad complete with the ‘hoity toity’ intonation. And yet when his female character, convinced this is the night her fella is going to propose, sees said partner in the embrace of another, you feel for him. For her. She’s ‘devastated’ in a way only a Scouse girl can be, and we’re with her. 

Judd (Mutty Burman) is the fool. The fall guy. The butt of the joke. The comedy character bringing light relief throughout the show and it’s infectious. Burman continues this into his other roles as the unloved ‘kind of pretty’ 20-something. As we’re given updates throughout the evening, she’s not having much success in the pulling department, starts to feel a little ill and wants to go home. But she stays and we’re so glad she does. 

And Ralph (Zain Salim) is the confident, almost cocky doorman. Salim has a physicality that just draws the eye. Dare I say it, ‘Twist and Pulse-esque’ if you’re familiar with the dance duo from BGT many years ago. First it comes as a shock. You weren’t expecting it and then you just go with it. He literally moulds himself into his characters. His female character is sublime. You know her. You’ve seen her. You’ve also seen her towards the end of the night, swerving the fella whose advances aren’t welcome. Darting to the loos and then exiting the venue. Salim also makes a great MC, at times grabbing the DJ’s mic for a round of freestyle for the ‘Massive’.

And then we’re back with the four. All stood, hands clasped in front of them, spotlit and steadfast. A tableau we’re treated to time and again as the default state from which to venture from.

Summary

If you’ve seen Bouncers, you’ve not seen this Bouncers. And if you already love Bouncers, you’ll certainly love this Bouncers. That’s a lot of Bouncers, and yet there’s only four.

Highly recommended and such an exciting piece and one that certainly put the Boisterous Theatre Company firmly on the map. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Notes

Target Audience: 14+
Content: Frequent Strong Language, Infrequent Sex References
Recommendation?: Yes

Overall Rating: 10/10 – Perfect

Bouncers Further Link

Bouncers runs at the Royal Court Theatre until Saturday September 11 2021. So, to purchase tickets, please click here.

Read a previous review of this show by clicking here.

Did you see Bouncers? Let us know by leaving a comment below!