EFR - Reviews of Bouncers Remix

Bouncers Remix

Sat 6th – Sun 28th August 2011

reviews

Patrick Sykes

at 10:12 on 25th Aug 2011

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Not really being one for ‘hitting da klub’ (that’s what they say, right?), I was initially sceptical about Bouncers Remix; yet although it failed to instil in me an urge to reform my nightlife preferences, it succeeded in every other way.

Against a practically bare stage that barely contains the stage presence of its cast, DugOut Theatre’s four-piece reimagining of John Godber’s classic original takes you on a tour-de-force of the ‘classic’ night out. The production’s greatest asset has to be its pace. It is both the longest and the most compelling show I have seen so far, largely due to the flexibility of the cast. Between them they play London bouncers, scouse punters, angry punks, and West Yorkshire lasses, and many more inbetween. With phenomenal pace they each move seamlessly through their various personas, thanks in part to slick sound and lighting production, but more importantly to their own faultless versatility. When discrepancies between each of these character’s characters arise, the script makes a point of joking about it, and only adds to the humour.

The foursome clearly love the show, and without a weak link in the chain they spit impeccably rehearsed chants of brutal observational poetry, all the more impressive for the accents they navigate without a trace of a loss of clarity. Credit to director Tom Black for this, and to choreographer Louisa Beadel for the equally disciplined riot that is the various dances that punctuate the show. These rarely add anything to the movement of the plot but are forgivably hilarious every time. Special credit to Ralph (George Chilcott) for dealing with ‘that awkward moment when your fake moustache begins to fall off’ by puckering up the biggest pout I’ve seen in my life.

Thought this truly was a group success, individual mentions are deserved by Luke Murphy, whose bouncer character, Judd, has a tendency to blurt somehow hilarious obscenities at the most perfectly chosen of moments; and to Will Barwick, whose primary character, the bouncer ‘Lucky’ Eric, leads the show. His self declared ‘speeches’ are the only relenting instances in the otherwise electric pace, but rather than stalling the atmosphere they only intensify it, through his astute and often touching commentary on the degenerate world he at once resents and relies upon.

Bouncers Remix gives you the rare chance to laugh at everything that you know is ridiculous about clubland, whilst sincerely noting flaws that run much deeper. Though it was on in the middle of the afternoon, this was without doubt the most fun I’ve had on a night out in a long time.

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Alexandra Sayers

at 12:02 on 25th Aug 2011

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‘All human life is inevitably here’, remarks Lucky Eric, one of four male characters comprising the ‘Bouncers’ in this starkly original show. In the next hour and a half, Eric (Will Barwick), Judd (Luke Murphy), Ralph (George Chilcott) and Les (Henry Perryment) are transformed into multifarious characters, giving us a snippet into the lives of the nightclubbers it is their job to either let in or chuck out. All bases are covered, from the salon-preened teenage girls to the drunken men on a night on the pull. These transformations are wonderfully pitched, with all four actors contorting their bodies, changing their voices, and tapping into perfect expressions for their new selves.

The introduction of these new characters is interspersed with fantastic physical theatre acts that bring the whole set alive: although the only props on the stage are four plastic beer crates, the dances evoke perfectly first the seedy disco floor, then the sticky toilet entrance, then the pavement outside the venue occupied by the bouncers. There is no doubt where the characters are at any one given time. This is complemented with the impressive lighting and sound that for our show remained (almost) consistently excellent throughout the performance. The only incident was one song not coming in loud enough for a dance routine to start, but it is testament to the actors’ charisma and energy that this glitch was made hilarious through Will Barwick’s sly look at the audience. When George Chilcott’s moustache refused to be tamed, he threw it into the audience with a cheeky grin to the receiver. What class to be able to carry on with the show - indeed make it even funnier - through unforeseen hiccups.

My two favourite scenes were the fight between Eric and Judd (it’s been a while since I’ve heard Lethal Bizzle’s ‘Pow 2004’, and it was the most pleasant musical surprise I’ve ever had during a performance); and Chilcott’s impeccable set as a disco DJ. The heightened reality of his character brought this scene into such focus: it had so much truth in it that for the audience it was simultaneously achingly funny and intensely cringe-worthy, sparking recollections of awful ‘disco’ nights and even more awful DJs. The connection this, and many other scenes, managed to make with the audience made the show endlessly watchable.

But it was not just a gag-after-gag show: there was - at the risk of me becoming a joke of a joke made in the piece about ‘social comment’ - a challenge to the audience made through each evolving character: they are all indeed hilarious, but they are also pathetic, brought into sharp relief through Lucky Eric’s speeches which are interspersed throughout the piece. Here he tackles the issues of binge drinking, sexualization of young girls, sexualization of old girls, and sleazy men taking advantage. It is a reminder, amongst all the laughs, that their characters are not made up, but are very much alive in our society today. The bouncers’ question ‘Tell us why’ haunts the piece as much as the dances enliven it.

This is theatrical fusion at its very best: comedy, physical theatre and hard-hitting social challenging; all in one impeccably slick production with four extremely talented actors. The whole audience loved it, the laughs were genuine belly-achers, and the standing ovation was proof of the universal enjoyment and engagement this unmissable show creates. GO GO GO.

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