Bitches Ahoy!

Martin Blackburn
Above the Stag Theatre

Lucas Livesey as Max and Ethan Chapples as Garth Credit: PBGstudios
Ethan Chapples as Garth and Hannah Vesty as Pam Credit: PBGstudios
Chris Clynes as Drew and Ethan Chapples as Garth Credit: PGBstudios
Simon Burr as Patrice Credit: PGBstudios

A year ago, Above the Stag had a sell-out success with Martin Blackburn’s camp comedy Alright Bitches! about gays on a package holiday deal on Gran Canaria. Bitches Ahoy! isn’t exactly a sequel but rather a follow-up that is perhaps even funnier.

It features old friends Garth and Max and their female friend Pam, who were all in the first play. The same actors play them in this new play. It is delightfully tailored to provide the theatre’s core gay audience with an enjoyable, laugh-filled night out.

This time they are all on a cruise ship for a specifically gay cruise. Lucas Livesey’s Max, lacking a lover and acidly accurate in his comments on the others, has got a job as a ship’s steward and has got managed to get his friends holidays on the cruise with a staff discount.

Both Ethan Chapples’s Garth and Hannah Vesty’s Pam have brought their new lovers. Garth’s Drew (Chris Clynes) is handsome and bearded with artistic inclinations and rather more serious interests than Garth, but difference can be a good thing in a relationship. The problem is Drew is a bit on the rebound from a lover who ditched him (and who turns up when the cruise reaches Mykonos); he is not as committed as he should be.

Pam (first comically seen in a very intimate moment) has at last found herself a feller. He is Patrice, a younger, decidedly slimmer and romantic acting French film critic—or at least that’s what he says that he is. Since Simon Burr, who plays him, was the villain in ATS’s just-finished pantomime, the audience may be on the watch-out but Pam is unaware as she plans her longed-for wedding. Mind you, he can give real satisfaction, especially in the shower, as not only Pam can testify.

Andrew Beckett has designed an elegant set which serves as two almost identical state rooms with their balconies. Flashing lights around the bedhead and the sound of the cruise disco cover the rapid changes that convert one to the other and as director he keeps the action just as lively. There is an hilarious sequence when Garth and Max burrow through the bed covers to escape from a closet in which they were hiding but the dialogue is equally spirited full of high camp humour.

Though it is a show that implicitly and explicitly targets a gay audience there were quite a few ladies on press night and they were thoroughly enjoying it. ATS makes straight patrons welcome too—it’s perhaps the friendliest theatre in London.

Reviewer: Howard Loxton