Review: Bouncers bounces back

9 Sep
bouncersonstage.com

Cast from L to R – William Ilkley, Don Gilet, Ian Reddington, Ace Bhatti (photo from http://www.bouncersonstage.com)

John Godber’s Bouncers, which has been frequently produced since its first performance in 1977, has been given a shake-up in this new version for Watershed Productions directed by the esteemed playwright himself. The play is set in and around a nightclub where Judd (William Ilkley), Les (Don Gilet), Lucky Eric (Ian Reddington) and Ralph (Ace Bhatti) work as doormen. The four actors also play a group of girls celebrating their friend’s 21st birthday and a group of rowdy lads out on the pull.

The cast effortlessly switch between their very different roles and seem equally at home in each of them. I particularly enjoyed Bhatti as sexy Susie and he and Reddington have a couple of very funny scenes together highlighting that physical comedy can be just as successful as wordplay. Set and props are minimal but excellent use is made of lighting and sound to create an effective club feel and Lucky Eric’s speeches are most effective when he is placed in a spotlight. These four speeches act as a kind of social commentary breaking up the comedy and reminding the audience that the sort of behaviour these bouncers see every night is very often not funny and can actually be disturbing and demeaning.

Bouncers has been ‘remixed’ before, and Godber has clearly tried his best to make this version as up to date as possible. This was a bit hit and miss. I enjoyed the music choice, for example – the actors first appeared to Rihanna’s Where Have You Been and the group of girls tried and failed to sing along to a Wanted song- but references to ‘records’ and having the girls and guys getting ready for their nights out at a hairdressers and barbers respectively just didn’t sit right. This is a minor complaint, however, of an evening which kept the packed theatre constantly in hysterics.

Bouncers was at York Theatre Royal 5-8 September and is touring until 17th November. For details see www.bouncersonstage.com

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