Welcome to Liverpool Confidential
Reset Password
The Confidential websites will be undergoing routine updates. This may cause the sites to go offline. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience.

You are here: Liverpool ConfidentialEntertainmentTheatre & Comedy.

Bouncers/Royal Court

Nightclub doormen make it a night to remember. Words: Mike Chapple. Pictures Dave Evans

Written by . Published on July 30th 2014.

Bouncers/Royal Court

THE idea of going to see John Godber's relative old chestnut always seemed to be a bad one because of personal experience. 

The doormen I knew up close, and not so personal, frequented a city centre gym. They would regularly invade the sauna like a herd of steroid-shafted, shaven-headed, bull elephants - just when you'd caught a bit of solitude. 

Sitting in the middle of bellowed conversations about who'd been "seen to"the night before - whether it be with drugs, to shaggings and kickings - always provoked an early exit from this Dante's inferno.

 So why would anyone want to spend an evening trying to extract some entertainment from such company?

Erm, well, because this set of bruisers are a hapless quartet of Moss Bros-suited-and-booted pussycats which have the audience chortling with delight from the start.

Maybe it has a lot to do with the Liverpudlian tweaking that this Yorkshire-based original was given by the Court last year, from one of its favourite directors Bob Eaton.

An emergency substitute two month's before a designated production fell through, it was quickly given a scouse makeover.


Only accomplished character actors can do this and these boys carry it off with aplomb and to often hilarious effect

Such was their enthusiasm that ex-Brookie faves Mickey Starke and Paul Broughton, plus Danny O'Brien and Mark Womack, signed up to become said Bouncers Judd, Lucky Eric, Les and Ralph,  "in just 20 minutes flat" according to the Court's major domo Iain Christie. 

Language, anecdotes and locations such as the Grafton, the Conti and The Big House became the framework for this slice of Liverpool club land, circa 1985, and duly won the full approval of the esteemed creator Godber himself.

So successful was the formula that it's back for a second year this time with another Brookie fave, Louis Emerick, taking the place of Womack.

And what a seamless Rat Pack of a team they prove to be. 

(Click here to add text)(Click here to add text)

Bear in mind that the four play not just the principle characters but all their "customers" including The Woolybacks, the rugby club hooray Henrys, the 14 pints - plus chasers - scallies, the girls from down the hairdressers, the punks and more. 

All of the transformations are done without costume change from penguin suits, requiring razor sharp timing to fit into a completely different role at a click of the the fingers. 

Only accomplished character actors can do this and these boys carry it off with aplomb and to often hilarious effect.

An especial scene favourite is the bizarre last dance slowie at the Grafton when the bladdered scalls and the hair birds finally get it together with suitably disastrous results.

But the laughs are there even before the start as the Bouncers get into character, mingling with the audience. 

"Be'ave, because I'm watchin' you, lad," growled the imposing Broughton, who seemed to be pointing at me for some reason.

Indeed, it's Broughton as the ageing, patriarchal Eric, who brings the only sombre reading to the work.

He occasionally lapses into melancholy about his club charges, especially the younger girls who can make big life-changing mistakes for the sake of a night of partying.

It may slow down the proceedings - Bouncers still zips by in just over 90 minutes - but it properly grounds the play with a pertinent message amid the mayhem.

That apart, it's a hoot all the way from O'Brien's marvellous Billy Butler impression, Emerick's morphing from malevolent to mincing, Broughton's prog rock dementoid and Starke's sex-starved monkey suit man wailing: "I'd shag a frog me, if it'd stop 'oppin!"

A night to remember, as Shalamar once said.


Bouncers runs until August 16th

Like what you see? Enter your email to sign up for our newsletters which are chock-a-block with more great reviews, news, deals and savings.

To post this comment, you need to login.Please complete your login information.
Or you can login using Facebook.

Latest Rants

Peter Coyle

i wish i had been there…it sounds like something joyous and anarchic...the way the article is…

 Read more

Couldn't agree more. This is a super piece. Ken would be proud that not a penny of public money was…

 Read more
Reader Xxx

The review was indeed brilliant - congratulations Angie. The show must have been very special -…

 Read more
Claudia Boulton

Thanks Angie for your brilliant piece, so glad you wrote it! Now i know what was going on! Being in…

 Read more

Explore The Site

© Mark Garner t/a Confidential Direct 2021

Privacy | Careers | Website by: Planet Code