[The following are excerpts from two sources. Firstly newspaper and online media reviews and secondly audience comments from feedback forms which we hand out at the end of each show]
REIGN OF VAMPIRES
May 2014, The Casa
Review by Lynsey Farrelly – Nerve Magazine
With everything that is currently happening in modern day society, the setting of Reign of Vampires in the 21st century is quite apt. It tells the story of Professor Muhr, played by Adam Byrne, who sets out to expose all the politicians, bankers and people in power as ruthless blood thirsty vampires – keen to feed off the minds of outstanding members of the Human Race who would dare to speak up for the masses subject to deprivation – while greed and hunger for power is the undoing of the world as we know it.
Concealing his identity as Vampire Hunter 830314, Muhr infiltrates political rule, uncovering their agendas and watching them as they live lives of ultimate luxury, amassing more and more wealth while people all over the world feel the bite of poverty and whole counties are brought down as banks collapse. At first Muhr is successful in mastering the ruin of events such as the transmission of the Queens Speech, much to the annoyance of governmental powers he continues to undermine important events whilst no one in power knows his true identity.
Determined to pass on his knowledge and bring down the people at the top so that the power shifts to the masses, he encounters Frederica de Generale an outspoken aspiring young journalist who voices her opinions of the needlessly excessive desire for monetary gain of the banks and their panic to cover up the crashes in 2008 which led to the global recession.
Muhr then sets out to open her eyes to all that these vampires do to manipulate the systems and keep the truth from the global population whilst vying for globalisation. There are references to Marx and Vampire Hunter 830314 sees himself as a modern Marxist character fighting for his possession of truth to be given to the population in order to overthrow the politicians, banks and even churches networking and manipulating with their evil propaganda.
While Julian Bond’s play cleverly ridicules the powers of the governments, churches and monarchs it also echoes the unthinkable realisation of the George Orwell novel 1984 coming into fruition in the modern world. Eleanor Parry’s portrayal of the naïve but passionate de Generale partners well with Adam Byrne, Martin Byrnes and Colin Tyrer also stand out.
Catherine Jones – The Liverpool Echo
Forget Christopher Lee with his high-collared cloak and pointy canines. Forget doe-eyed, pale-skinned, poster boy emo vampires and their Twilight zone.
The bloodthirsty anti-heroes of writer/director Julian Bond’s latest piece for Burjesta Theatre are more likely to be found be-suited in the world’s top boardrooms, wearing a crown, or – a disquieting moment – dad dancing at discos in Davos where the world’s business elite gather in their ‘snowy Versailles’.
Reign of Vampires’ central premise is that the world is run by bloodsuckers, and humans are their raw material, to manipulate and control and – if you’re one of the unlucky ones – feed off, in their lust for power.
Bond’s script merrily outs everyone from the Queen to Bank of England boss Mark Carney, the recently-departed BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten to former Dean of Liverpool – now Archbishop of Canterbury – Justin Welby, and even, quelle horreur, Bono, as members of the vampirical brethren.
The only thorn in their side is the mysterious vampire hunter 830314 who dogs their footsteps with his public accusations, including blurrily interrupting the grand opening of the 44th World Economic Forum, leading to the priceless line that he ‘s**** on Bono’s big moment’.
The vampire hunter (Adam Byrne dressed as a member of Madness in Eric Morecambe specs) teams up with a forthright but naive trainee journalist (Eleanor Parry) in pursuit of the ‘world governance of vampires’.
Bond’s big nod to Karl Marx’s metaphor of capitalism as a vampire takes the duo to Highgate Cemetery as part of an entertaining, but over-long sight-seeing sequence of venerable British institutions led by Colin Tyrer’s delightfully-realised tour guide.
There’s also a lengthy, and somewhat confusingly staged, escape sequence before the interval – both halves could do with some judicious pruning.
Elsewhere, Reign of Vampires is a frustrating mixture of stilted dialogue and eloquent speeches, and of some really quite sinister, menacing scenes – these vampires are savage, if bloodless feeders – juxtaposed with some unconsciously hammy moments.
Still, Bond’s piece has a solid and well constructed story arc, and the cast, some of whom have never been on stage before, deliver it in (mostly) confident fashion.
THE BELLY OF MERRIE ENGLAND A.D. 2013’
July 2013, The Casa
[Involved three ‘burjesta clowns’ who descend on an England in conflict, with austerity cuts and deprivation all around. It had various performers throughout the play doing brief interlude acts]
“an odd and enjoyable night…in a unique and comedic way”.
“like something planned by David Lynch, experimental theatre pieces intercut with old-school music and dancing women seemingly from another time”.
“The play was very clever, the message subtle but sincere….I’ve seen a lot of Burjesta shows, I see a steady progress in talent and sophistication.”
“Great night’s entertainment…creative and moving script, great performances, loved the cabaret elements – more of the same please!”
“Surreal – like Finnegan’s Wake for the 21st century!”
“Comedy was excellent!”
“the musical interludes were a great idea and made for a wonderful mix.”
“it held the attention didn’t know what was coming next.”
“Fabulous – love the play and the message, touching, raw, real, ironic!”
“Your productions have been very entertaining, different and thought provoking.”
“Loved the Burjesta clowns.”
“Well done – really good fun.”
“The singer’s (Vanessa Booth) performance was great I really enjoyed listening to her fantastic voice.”
‘THE JESUS CONSPIRACY’
April 2013, The Casa
[Looked at the life of Jesus and the subsequent fight over his message to create ‘Christianity’.]
“Fantastical – it’s challenging, provocative theatre”
“It might be fiction, but it serves up thought provoking ideas that linger long after the actors take their final bow”.
“…in less experienced hands than Burjesta, the ear-piecing screams of the death scenes could be cringe worthy – but the intimacy of the setting lends a rawness that fits well with the subject matter”.
“I was very entertained, the show was thought provoking, a well-acted stage production.”
“Very good production and performance.”
“Liked the interpretative live music with the drama.”
“I always enjoy the (Burjesta) productions. Acting on a par with big theatre productions. Well done!”
“Very authentic theatrical experience…music was amazing.”
“Actors are very passionate about performance…music was brilliant, really added atmosphere…nice friendly atmosphere.”
“I loved the play and look forward to the next one – you all work so hard.”
“Bring on the next play.”
“Very stylistic and dramatic…a brave production.”
“Excellent use of ‘Epic Theatre’ principals for a small theatre venue.”
“A great choice of play, thoughtfully done with music that set the tone perfectly.”
‘THE PIED PIPER OF LIVERPOOL’
January/February 2013, The Casa
[Looked at local political corruption within the traditional fairytale format]
Liverpool Sound & Vision
“(the)…script is both fascinating and informative to the extreme, something that doesn’t happen too often apart from in local theatre…The cast was wonderful…a very good evening out, filled with pathos and a strong sense of local pride made this a winning formula for the cast, the writer and The Casa”.
“Keep up the good work and keep giving us drama productions for many, many years to come!”
“The whole production was first class. Enjoyed the evening very much!”
“Excellent acting and music.”
“Loved the sheer enthusiasm of the cast.”
“Very well written.”
“The show was fantastic and the points it made.”
“A clever and topical variation of a well-known fairytale.”
“Very funny and sad at the same time.”
“Really clever production.”
“An admirable and bold attempt by independent writers and producers – original!”
“Excellent – thoroughly enjoyed it.”
“Loved the writing – great use of language.”
“I love the troupe’s bravery – they are wasted…(and so am I!)”
“Amazing, surreal atmosphere – a truly unique fusion of high ideas and panto.”
“Your lively group is an asset to the community.”
‘THE REAL MONSTERS’
October 2012, The Casa, Williamson Tunnels
[A variety night approach to the subject of industrial pollution and capitalist profiteering over health]
“The play is warm and humorous, and the enthusiasm and commitment of the cast is a joy to behold…the passion of the whole company always shone through…if you appreciate bold and brave theatre, then you could certainly do worse than to support this exciting local company…Burjesta Theatre have triumphed with their Halloween Variety show with a difference”.
“well produced, excellently written and put together with great performances…loved how some difficult and strong messages were delivered in an entertaining yet thought-provoking way.”
“Scary! Nearly jumped out of my skin from the death-man standing behind me!”
“Extremely good production in conveying a necessary message whilst still being humourous and light-hearted.”
“Brilliant twist on what I was expecting”
“Theatre that makes a point and takes a stance…great show, brave choice, brilliant local theatre.”
“Good to hear the Liverpool accent amongst the actors.”
“A very professional company especially for only your third production.”
“Each show gets better looking forward to the next one.”
‘CANT SLEEP CLOWNS WILL EAT ME’
June 2012, The Casa, Unity Theatre, Lantern Theatre
[A musical farce with characters singing ten songs in total in a surreal tale of terrorist threats, supermarket shenanigans and royal visitors]
“a brave piece of new writing, with innovative use of theatrical techniques”
“Combining acting, dancing and song, Can’t Sleep…had a carnival-esque feel which was well choreographed…my only issue was that the applause took too long…my arms were aching by the end”
“Very entertaining whilst making valid points.”
“The songs were fab.”
“Reminded me of ‘Oh, What a lovely War’ and Dennis Potter.”
“Very original and funny.”
“The songs were brilliant, very reminiscent of ‘Oh, what a lovely war’, poignant but funny. The context was so ‘now’. Bravo – very brave.”
“Very original – it had ‘Mighty Boosh’ moments!”
“Some wonderful physical theatre from the shop-lifters.”
February/March 2012, The Casa & Williamson Tunnels
[Gathering Jack is a Liverpool Serial Killer on the loose at the time of Valentine’s Day – he has a propensity to sing romantic songs whilst killing]
Seven Streets Online Website
“an enjoyable and imaginative production with genuine moments of the uncanny….pulled off with imagination and wit.”
“occasionally rough around the edges, but Gathering Jack was an enjoyable and spirited production.”
“A totally enjoyable evening – a unique experience.”
“Unusual venue & brilliant cast – interactive and professional.”
“The acting was excellent and I really enjoyed the music, very different to other shows I’ve seen – a really well put together play, engaging throughout.”
“The Interval was great – having the crime scene on at the same time was a wonderful and original idea. Location – superb.” [WilliamsonTunnels]
“So sad at times my heart was sad…..but wonderful.”
“Cracking acting, singing, venue and absolutely fantastic production.”
“Very entertaining, well-written and well-acted! I enjoyed the scenes done around Liverpool – would recommend highly to all my friends and when’s the next one?”
“A really well put together play, engaging throughout. Fun night out – very different to other shows I’ve seen.”
“So sad at times, my heart was sad – but wonderful.”
“Very good and better than spending the evening in a pub or the bingo!”
“Jack really scared me, then I cried, then he made me laugh!! What quality!!”
“Good representation of Liverpool and its people – Liverpool needs you!”