Written by John Godber
Directed by Jane Thornton
Review by David Bithell
It’s Friday night, the weekend’s here and the party’s about to begin.
Time for dancing, drinking and the search for true love. The club’s getting hot but out in the cold the Bouncers are ready for anything.
Meet Ralph, Judd, Les and Lucky Eric as they relive a night in a Yorkshire disco in the 80s in an outrageous celebration of the northern nightclub scene.
It’s a screamingly funny ride through one of those nights as all the gang are out on the town – the boys, the girls, the cheesy DJ, the fish and chip van and the taxi home.
All under the watchful eyes of the Bouncers…
Voted as one of the greatest plays of the 20th Century in a National Theatre poll, and regularly produced around the world, Bouncers was nominated for Comedy of the Year in 1985, won seven Los Angeles Critics’ Circle Awards and five awards in Chicago in 1987. This comedy classic is unmissable!
Just to let you know, I am a huge fan of write, director and actor John Godber, we have seen the quality of work here at the New Vic before, Sunny Side Up and Shakers to name but a few, so I knew what I was in for. I had previously heard good things about Bouncers, so I was looking forward to this. The John Godber Company was established in 2011 by John and his lovely wife Jane Thornton “with the purpose of allowing the playwright John Godber to continue expressing himself through the dramatic form”, having left Hull Truck in 2010.
Bouncers has been around for some time, the very same year I was born and like myself, it has aged well. There are references to songs, stereotypical behaviours and the antics of any Friday or Saturday night out in most of the towns and cities around the country in the 80’s are absolutely spot on. I could relate to pretty much everything the play had to offer which made it even more enjoyable. It was like being transported back to those memorable nights out. I can imagine some of these antics are still going on now around, Newcastle under Lyme, Stoke and pretty much across the country.
The play tells the story of one night in Yorkshire, a disco in town called Mr Cinders, told through the eyes of the ever-observant doormen Les, Ralph, Judd and Lucky Eric. But this isn’t just one perspective we see, as the various characters arrive at the club – the girls, the boys, the DJ and even those who don’t get in.
As predicted, the production and performance of the actors was smooth, slick, hilariously funny and left a lot of us nodding in agreement. Myself with a wry smile on my face, remembering a time when what was playing out in front of us belonged to our own selves and the weekend activities of the twenty somethings we once were.
The cast is small, just four men – Tom Whittaker, Frazer Hammill, George Reid and Lamin Touray. But there’s a saying dynamite comes in small packages, and this quartet play the bouncers themselves along with several other characters each with sheer panache, incredible timing and with fantastic comedic ability. Thorough, they quickly flip between playing 18-year-old women, posh types, seedy DJs and even hairdressers.
Frazer Hammill plays an outstanding Lucky Eric, Hammill conveys the maturity required for the part with ease. Tom Whittaker meanwhile is a vigorous scouser with top notch comic timing, making him a brilliant choice for playing both Ralph the bouncer and Sexy Susie. Judd is played by the commanding Lamin Touray who has real stage presence and the height and build you would come accustomed to see in a stereotypical doorman. Finally, George Reid has the part of Les(lie), and is the perfect combination of looks, slight seediness and more than a little stupidity.
You are in for a real treat, catch Bouncers at The New Vic, Newcastle until Saturday 1st April. For tickets call 01782 717962 or by visiting www.newvictheatre.org.uk