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Review: Bouncers at the Royal Court Studio ****

May 9, 2018

Liverpool’s newest theatre company Boisterous certainly lives up to its name in this vibrant new version of John Godber’s classic clubland tale.

The cast exudes energy and exuberance in a performance which at times steps off the small stage and in to the audience packed in to the Royal Court’s basement studio space.

The close proximity to the action also gives the production a sense of pace and urgency than a more traditional proscenium arch presentation might offer.

Boisterous, a new venture nestling under the Court’s theatrical umbrella, was launched to produce, develop and nurture new and existing talent from Liverpool’s BAME community (an acronym which is debated during the show by the bouncers of the title).

On the face of it, Godber’s 1977 play about lads and lasses out on the razz doesn’t really fit in to this aspiration.

But the Yorkshire playwright, who has developed a close working relationship with the Royal Court over the past few years, gave Boisterous co-founder Maurice Bessman his blessing to pen a fresh adaptation. And fresh is how it feels.

Bouncers at the Royal Court Studio. Photos by Zanto Digital

 

Bessman has maintained the structure of Godber’s original while updating it to the here and now, with a restrained scattering of contemporary Liverpool references and a raft of modern music choices in what’s being billed Bouncers: Urban Remix.

These are played in a live set by DJ Spykatcha, adding to the club vibe.

At its heart is a four-strong cast – Joe Speare, Trevor Dwyer-Lynch, Marlon G Day and Zain Salim – who are clearly having a lot of fun in their multiple roles, as lads on the pull, girls on the cocktails and bouncers on the door, switching from one to the other under changing coloured lights.

They’ve also got some boyband dance moves and produce some great vocal harmonies.

Director Miriam Mussa keeps the action crisp and the pace mostly keen, and there’s some very funny late-night grappling on the dancefloor.

Meanwhile Bessman has re-worked Judd, Ralph, Les and ‘Lucky’ Eric’s dubious doorstep banter in to a more politically correct discussion of sexual and racial terminology, although the rather tedious stereotype of the posh rugger bugger remains unreconstituted.

With Bessman and Mussa already being inundated with interest from writers and performers, Bouncers appears to be just the start for Boisterous.

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