A bare stage, two kegs and four Bouncers

Insomniac Theatre, have been presenting theatre in Sydney’s Inner West for the past eight years. Their latest show, John Godber’s Bouncers opens on March 15 at Balmain’s The Cat & Fiddle Hotel. AussieTheatre caught up with Maggie Scott Director/Producer for a quick chat about the show…

The Cast of Bouncers

AT: What prompted you to present this particular piece – John Godber’s Bouncers?

Actually Insomniac Theatre first presented this play three years ago. But so many of our patrons had asked to see it back or had missed it the first time around and requested a repeat performance. It is also a perfect piece for pub theatre – because of the subject matter and because it requires only bare stage and two beer kegs…

AT: Tell us a little about the play.

The play was first performed in the 80’s, then revamped in the 90’s, and, as far as the theme goes, nothing’s much changed  in 2012. Although set in England, the humour is universally recognisable. It takes us through a typical working night in the life of four bouncers, from early evening to the wee small hours. We meet the bouncers and many of their potential, or ejected, customers – the drunk, the desperate, the underage, the violent, the broken-hearted, both male and female. Think of it as one of those nights (and I’m sure most people remember at least one !) where you start out full of hope, buy new clothes, get your hair done, have a few drinks and dream of meeting a gorgeous guy or girl. Then you have a few drinks too many, meet no one you’d want to dance with sober, find yourself out in the cold, buy a dodgy kebab, run out of money, try to get a taxi, and end up throwing up in a gutter somewhere.

AT: There are only four men in the cast, but do they play a huge range of characters?

Yes, all those 30 or so characters, male and female, all ages, are played by the four male actors.

AT: What has been your involvement with Insomniac Theatre? How long have you been working with this theatre company? 

In fact, I founded the company in 2005 and have been involved in every production. I always produce or co-produce and have directed all the plays but one. (In the last play I returned to acting.)

Over the years we have built up a solid core of members with many of the cast or crew having worked on several of these productions, and new people joining us all the time. Cramer Cain, the newest member of the company, comes fresh from filming with James Cameron in Sanctum and the current ABC TV series The Straits. Andrew “AJ” Mead, another of the cast of Bouncers, is a fellow founder member, either as actor or director, and, like me, has been involved in every production. I just can’t seem to shake him off …

AT: The show will take place at the Cat & FIddle Hotel in Balmain- what is it that you love about this venue? Are there any challenges associated with performing in a hotel? (or does it fit nicely considering the subject matter?)

When Insomniac began performing at the Cat & Fiddle there was a purpose built theatre in the basement which hosted seasons of plays year round. Unfortunately, after we had performed there for the first couple of years, the space was closed as a theatre space and in subsequent years we performed either at the Roxbury( in Glebe), The Exchange or The West End (in Balmain), or in one of the upstairs bars of the Cat & Fiddle. We love working at the Cat & Fiddle, our original home.

Sam, the bistro chef, has been serving great meals throughout our time there and many of our theatregoers like to eat before or after the show. This year it will even be possible to eat during the show, cabaret-style, and there will be table service for drinks too. No more queuing at the bar. We also have a promotional tie-in with Carlton this time. They pledge one free beer with every ticket. I did mention this to a very sweet but rather elderly enquirer who warned me that this would attract quite the wrong sort of person, but I don’t think she’s ever actually experienced pub theatre…

It can be a challenge to perform a theatre production in a hotel. At other hotels we have had to compete with occasional quiz nights, meat raffles or live bands… but at the Cat we are given exclusive use of two adjoining spaces and no competition from next door bars. And of course this particular play really lends itself to the pub atmosphere.

Insomniac Theatre's Shakers, 2006

AT: Are the cast members going to be using the traditional English accents for this production? Or are you presenting this work with an Australian flavour? 

We are sticking with English accents, although the play could easily be transposed to Australia. The versatile cast manage to handle the whole variety of regional accents required by the script. The bouncers will be cockney but the other characters and punters are a mix of Scouse, West Country, upper crust, Caribbean and Greek!

AT: Will Godber’s sister play, Shakers, be on Insomniac’s list of shows in the future? (Perhaps as a double bill?)

The sister play to Bouncers Shakers written by Godber’s wife Jane Thornton – has already been performed by Insomniac Theatre in 2006. We subsequently entered it in the Trans Tasman Theatre Festival where it won Best Actor, Best Director and Best Production.

AT:  What kind of audience will Bouncers appeal to? 

You don’t have to have experienced a night out on the town that you’d rather forget in order to enjoy this play. As one of the characters, Lucky Eric, says in his introduction “All human life is inevitably here”.  It’s very human, extremely funny, extremely physical, with a great soundtrack and a free beer thrown in. Pub theatre at its finest!


March 15 – April 1 (Thurs to Sat 8pm, Sunday 6pm)

The Cat & Fiddle Hotel
456 Darling Street, Balmain

Tickets $25/20 concession
Bookings and enquiries [email protected]
Telephone bookings open March 6 on 9555 9009

Follow Insomniact Theatre on Facebook for updates, and to see photo albums of all their previous work.

Erin James

Erin James is AussieTheatre.com's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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