The Real Monsters

Written & Directed by Mikyla Durkan
Presented by Burjesta Theatre
The CASA, Hope Street
Friday 26th October 2012

Reviewed by Kathryn Lamble

There’s something to be said for theatre that takes a stance and stands its ground, and that’s exactly what Liverpool-based Burjesta Theatre have done with their new Halloween variety production, The Real Monsters.

Opening on a young boy, Joe (Adam Byrne) secretly watching a Halloween TV special, we are introduced to a host of ghosts, ghouls, vampires and witches, each vignette presenting us with a series of familiar Halloween creepies. But that’s where the standard Halloween fair begins and ends. As Joe’s Mum (Kate Mulvihill) comes in and tucks her boy back into bed we watch each mystical character disappear – and realise this is going to be a Halloween show with a difference.

Throughout the rest of the piece we watch Joe grow up and start working as an apprentice on a chemical treatment plant which is responsible for clearing away huge amounts of asbestos. Concurrently, we watch the establishment of asbestos as a wonder product in the 1800’s, and the growth of the North West as the UK’s major location for chemical production. We look on as we are taken on a journey that shows us the terrifying possibility of a future where the honeybee has become extinct, chemicals are used to create a world “better than nature” and the human race has failed to heed the warning signs presently all around us.

The play is warm and humorous, and the enthusiasm and commitment of the cast is a joy to behold. The often serious nature of the subject matter is never aloof or exclusive and the company manages to convey a message in an accessible and comprehensive way. There were times where some of the devised, physical tableaus could have been edited somewhat with occasional moments feeling slightly overlong and silent, but the passion of the whole company always shone through.

If you want a different kind of Halloween viewing this year, and if you appreciate bold and brave theatre, then you could certainly do worse than to support this exciting local company. Proving that politically and environmentally engaged theatre can be both entertaining and accessible, Burjesta Theatre have triumphed with their Halloween Variety show with a difference.

Further performances are on at The CASA on Monday 29th October from 7:30pm and a Halloween Night Special on Wednesday 31st October from 9:30pm to late. Tickets are £5 on the door or reservations can be made by phone on 07913 449396.

For more information on Burjesta Theatre check out their website at

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