North WestReviewStorytelling

The Bunker (Halloween edition) – Liverpool Arts Bar

Reviewer: Robin Winters

Taken into the basement of the Liverpool Masonic Hall and escorted through numerous corridors all lined with Masonic images it’s hard not to feel the immense atmosphere and history of the building. So much is seldom seen, and this most definitely added to the overall experience of the evening. Arriving at a blue door where we were greeted and seated in what can only be described as an Egyptian temple. The layout in the space is interestingly intimate and beautifully lit by the company. Simple but effectively highlighting the architecture of the space and ensuring that everyone could see the very small stage.

There were seven original stories told across the hour, from the scary to the personal all thematically linked by the season of Autumn. The evening was hosted by the effervescent Mark Smith who, like, all good hosts made us feel welcome and immediately at ease, seamlessly incorporating those who were late. He linked the evening together whilst also supporting the stories using live sound effects. This is not something that I have seen before and gave an added edge to the work.

Opening was Angie Waller who delivered a wholly improvised story underscored by her ukulele whilst competing against her five-minute sand timer. The conceit was that she would spontaneously combust if she didn’t deliver in time. The story was derived from the two suggestions taken from the audience. It was delightful hearing the audience’s ideas being woven so skillfully into what became a ballad about the doctor and the ghost. This takes real skill and Waller is clearly very comfortable working in this manner.

Next up was Emma Reilly and her story of a ghost who finds itself in a loop until the call from the place beyond the grave informs her that she is indeed dead. The story was beautifully written and delicately delivered, however, it was slightly too breathy to always hear clearly what was being said.

Up next was Eavan Seasman who utilised the strangest of child’s toys, to tell the story of ‘Pogo’ the once-famous circus performer whose fame had dissipated as the audiences taste for the ‘Freakshow’ changed. Set on the Medway this American story was a familiar story of fame, loss and the desire to fit in. The twist in the story would have made Stephen King very proud. A very charismatic performer who incorporates her taste for the objet d’art as stimulus for her work. Her later story was a born from a similar trope, equally impressive but perhaps a change of style in the evening might have been useful.

Trev Fleming’s story was perhaps the most moving of the evening, drawing on his personal memory of his own father’s wake and the tales that emerge at the cusp between sleep and consciousness. Fleming is a voice actor, and he uses this masterfully in switching between himself and the various other characters we hear from.

Finally, we have the larger-than-life Munro Scott, a likeable performer who created two very distinctive stories. The stronger of the two was about the ghost who lives within a vape machine and helpfully assists with the care of his young baby. The second was well delivered but the writing was not quite as sharp as his first piece, he clearly has a talent for storytelling, and I suspect his journey is only just beginning.

There was much to admire about the evening and the performers involved. The running order was carefully constructed, it was a genuine surprise when an hour had passed so swiftly.

It’s pleasing to see something new being developed that is fresh and new in the city, and for Mark Smith and Wing It Impro and Stories their first project succeeds extremely well. It’s clear that there is a concept that can travel well and easily visit other venues. It will be interesting to see what comes next.

Reviewed 30 October 2021

Fangtastic Fun

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The Reviews Hub - North West

The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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