Ipswich: Alien Predator stalks PULSE festival

Andy Roberts of Bootworks Theatre in Predator, part of PULSE 2013

Andy Roberts of Bootworks Theatre in Predator, part of PULSE 2013 - Credit: Archant

Deep in the “jungle”, five-year-old Andy Roberts and his nine-year-old brother Steve found themselves hunted by an extra-terrestial warrior. Their only weapons, guns made from toilet roll holders, rolls of tape, their mum’s cheeseplant and lots of imagination.

The piece is a live, interactive re-telling of the classic 1987 film

The piece is a live, interactive re-telling of the classic 1987 film - Credit: Archant

The family moved house, Steve moved on to girls. Their re-creation of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sci-fi smash Predator unfinished, Andy devastated. Until now.

Years after sneaking downstairs to tape it off the telly while their parents slept, then sneaking the VCR up to their room to watch it whenever they could, Andy is picking their story back up with an interactive re-telling of the film at the New Wolsey Studio as part of PULSE.

And he needs your help.

Using many of the same techniques the brothers used in 1991, several lucky audience members will get the chance to play with remote control helicopters, Action Men, puppets, cardboard props and more as Andy finally finishes something 20 years in the making.

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“As kids we tried to re-create it as linear as possible, yet the weekly shop would be out and we wouldn’t have enough bits and bobs, pieces of cardboard around the house so we would just do whatever scenes we could until we could maybe find the things we needed for the next scene.

“A lot of the time we would redo scenes over again and end up changing the plot a bit, making up little bits we thought would be a little bit better. There is a moment in our process and the film - I won’t spoil it - where my brother definitely stopped playing with me.

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“He didn’t want to play these silly little games with his little brother anymore. I sat there devastated because we never actually got to finish the thing. Months and months we’d been pouring our hearts into it.”

Andy was inspired to reopen his box of toys by a fellow Bootworks artistic director who, realising he was too old to go into space, wrote to NASA telling them he was going to climb to a six foot ladder 1,478 times a day until he’d clocked up the distance from Earth to space - making him an honorary astronaut.

“There were a lot of questions at the time about what our childhood dreams were and the only thing I could think of at the time was the massive regret I never finished this film. Steve has a family now, he can’t go on the road with me and do a show.

“So I decided it would be good to get other people to embrace that childhood idea of play by just getting three members of the audience to sit at a table with me in a very intimate setting and recreate the film, dial into that sense of childhood play. Where anything can be anything... you’ve got a frisbee but it’s a steering wheel and how fun that is to do as adults, strangely.”

It was also a chance to do some of the things the brothers couldn’t do as youngsters.

“We always wanted this puppet which could do certain things, play different characters, I won’t ruin it but I thought ‘well, this is my chance’, so I went to puppet maker Max Humphries in Farnham who made this puppet to all the specifications me and my brother had dreamt it’d be able to do when we were younger.

“There is something really, really cool about growing up but also going ‘I’m not growing up at all because I’ve got money now to do what I want’,” laughs Andy.

You don’t have to be a fan of the movie to enjoy the show. In fact, he was surprised in the early stages of the show’s development by how many people in the audience had never seen it.

“It goes in its own direction anyway but I’m really excited by the idea you can take something as kind of low art as Predator yet be able to get new audiences into contemporary theatre through that channel.”

He clearly still loves it.

“It’s strange, amazing, how it’s an 18 certificate film but when you talk about Predator it brings on such nostalgia for people who watched it when they were in their early teens... it feels like a childhood film.

“It’s very cheesy and embraces that in a serious way yet doesn’t take itself too seriously. The special effects are great, it’s got lines that seem cheesy now but when you’re five they’re really cool.”

Did their mum and dad ever find out?

“Only after we started re-creating it,” he laughs.

Bootworks Theatre present Predator: Finishing off what I started when I was five, at the New Wolsey Studio, 7pm, June 5. Read my review online straight afterwards.

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