At first there was just a picture of a robot walking down a boarded-up terraced street. Intriguing. And then an invitation to the city’s cultural community to come together in writing, staging and performing a sci-fi play in the city in six weeks flat. Even more intriguing.
Stuff like Bonk Street is right up SevenStreets’, er, alleyway. Nevertheless we were concerned. A lot can go wrong in live theatre, nevermind live theatre six weeks in the making.
We’re glad to report that the first outing of Bonk Street Theatre, From Beyond Iron Mountain, was a success, despite a few inevitable wobbles.
A decidedly knockabout production brimmed with enthusiasm and commitment, aided by some inventive production, design and make-up and some very impressive performances – irrespective of the fact that none of the actors were professionals.
In it’s own way, Bonk Street is the antidote to the One Night In Istanbuls of this world, which are styled as the antidote to professional theatre in Liverpool themselves.
They may both be lacking in the professional quality of the Everymans and Playhouses, but we’ll take From Beyond Iron Mountain any day; the kind of production it’s hard to imagine finding a venue among the city’s traditional outlets.
The plot is a pastiche of every B-movie staple going: with an apeman; a weather-control unit; a robot; and a brain-in-jar wielding madman.
But while there are elements of modernist ’50s sci-fi films and a touch of Quatermass, there’s a healthy dose of Douglas Adams style absurdity too.
The humour comes to the fore in the second act with a cabaret-style parade of lunatic inventions performed with gusto, particularly by compere Richie Grice – a camp delight.
It seems a tad unfair to single out performances in a team production, but Trev Fleming is every inch the starchy British twit as Colin Smo; Jennifer Airey never misses a beat as robot Rumbelows; and Tall Paul as Taller Visitor is assuredly evil, and physically rather Schreckian (Max that is, rather than Scottish troll).
Little details that amused us include being greeted by a blue-skinned lovely; being led to the pub by ape-man Apesma in the interval; the wonderful soundtrack and soundscapes; and the accompanying booklet.
Excellent fun, if a tad student revue-esque at times, From Beyond Iron Mountain was great fun, and the sort of thing Liverpool should look to do more often – it’s far too long since a science-fiction theatre graced these streets.
Will there be a sequel? There’s always the possibility of a return to Iron Mountain, cackles Director Bob Moyler, maniacally…