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Shakers: under new management

Written by John Godber and Jane Thornton

Directed by John Godber

Review by David Bithell - A View To A Kiln / Radio Kiln

Dynamic duo playwrights Jane Thornton and John Godber first gave us Shakers: Under new management in 1985, a point when working class was merging into the money rich Thatcherism period in the UK. At the beginning of the 80’s (1981 to be exact), working as a waitress in a cocktail bar seemed trendy to British synthpop group The Human League. Shakers, set on the night shift of a swanky, loud and fictional cocktail bar, played those eras of escapism and indulge perfectly.

Fast forward, 40 years on, and during the current climate, you’ll be lucky to find a bar that’s open, nevermind busy. You only have to look at Newcastle under Lyme, as I drove home after the show, it’s a sleepy and sparse market town nowadays, even at its so called busiest times of Friday and Saturday nights.

The play describes its cliental as the stereotypical ones of all walks of life, your party group, your collection of teachers, your underage pupils loitering trying to get a glimpse of their authoritarian figures letting down their hair. All of which are trying to forget the economic challenges in the outside world, this bar is their safe-haven, if for only a couple of hours. You also have the flipside the 3

bartenders/waitresses, Adele, Mel and Nicky. All of which are on the zero hour contracts, poor working conditions and 2 minutes for a break each shift.

Jazmine Franks, Yasmin Dawes and Rebecca Tebbett give us a production of laughter, sadness and manage to carry the play on their shoulders for the hour and a half with entertainment value right til the end. Not only do they play their cocktail bar parts, they also act out as the punter as well, with sheer panache. They do a superb job in fact.

The newly updated version of this play kinda rings true to the current climate, its done full circle. There’s a lot of angst around at the moment for workers and punters alike, especially as Britain is battling and going through the “cost of living” crisis and the revolving door at No.10 keeps moving. You know Shakers is desperate to give us all a good time, but whats happening outside is leaving a sour taste in our mouths.

Shakers: under new management, is at the New Vic theatre untll Saturday 29th October 2022.

For tickets, please contact the box office on 01782 717962 or alternatively email

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