Thursday, October 02, 2008


Reform at the Civic Theatre


Every night in the theatre is a unique experience. Those actors, that audience, those words will never come together in that way again. But the opening night of Bouncers at the Civic was a one-off to remember.

The place was packed with teens – all far too young to get past the door staff at “Mr Cinders”, mostly dressed for a night down the disco.

The four actors from Reform – no strangers to a bit of rough and tumble – must have wondered what hit them. It was as if all the underage dancers and chancers they'd ever sent packing had returned en masse to seek revenge. The Children of England.

This wry look at 80s urban nightlife must have seemed like ancient history to these kids, the bouncers like dinosaurs. The bus ride into town, the basket meals, the barber's shop with its Vinnie Jones cut, the girls with their white handbags, even the video shop, all now extinct.

The challenge was to rouse and engage the crowd with YMCA, Michael Jackson and slightly over-extended scatological sequences, then calm them for the reflective Brechtian soliloquies. On the whole, this quartet succeeded impressively. Director Keith Hukin as Les, David Walker as Judd, Kivan Dene as Ralph [excellent in all his roles, especially the creepy DJ] and Richard Marriott a superb Lucky Eric.

Reform are famous for their gritty, physical work, and this punchy production of the prototype of the genre was a good choice to introduce students to the thrill of live theatre.

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