Bouncers 2007 Remix

John Godber
Theatre Royal, York
(2007)

Production photo

The playwright is quoted in the programme as likening Bouncers to stand-up comedy - this was certainly the case with Andy Hockley (playing Lucky Eric) adlibbing in a very befitting way on Tuesday the 24th of July - he shares his supposed social faux pas with the audience, commenting 'Well, that weren't in rehearsals!!' and he and his fellow tough, funny men can't keep a straight face.

When Godber wrote Bouncers he intended it for an audience that usually wouldn't come to the theatre, and here he certainly hits his mark. This 2007 Remix is cruder, louder and more energetic than ever, with beats louder than a night club. Unfortunately this means that much of the beginning dialogue and some of Davood Ghadami's DJ incarnation is lost, and when the lines come as fast and furious as in this production, it is a shame to miss them.

The cast of four play a myriad of characters, ranging for the hard-faced, hawk-eyed doormen to the drunken 'rowing club' socialites who are too far gone to manage standing much longer. With a 360 degree turn the actors morph into every celebrating character who darkens the door of the night club. However, watching their antics as the four girls, with nothing more than sparkly handbags and body language to match, the audience can't help feeling that it is here they are enjoying themselves the most.

Matthew Dixon excels in the moronic part of the doorman Judd, but equally bewitches the audience as Plain Elaine.

Whilst this is a fantastic ensemble piece with the four working so well together that if jokes were footballs they could play for England, it is Andy Hockley who brings pathos and depth to the piece. Lucky Eric's four speeches give comment on the depths that the "human race" sink to in their pursuit of the freedom and revelry of a night out.

We are spared nothing of the niceties, from vomit to snot to sex, and everything else that the hardened mind, who has worked so many years of late nights on the doors has seen, and can bear it no longer. This is Director's Damian Cruden's record ninth time directing the production and this does well for the theatre with a packed audience, including many young women, who, it can only be hoped heed, Lucky Eric's words.

Catherine Chapman's battered, metallic set, dancing poles and aluminium kegs conjure up the modern atmosphere of the space aged clubs, not to mention the moon landing opening spoofing various commercials - this is theatre for the multimedia generation yet it is accomplished with little more than perfectly timed physical comedy, lightening wit and four black suits. The lights swivel and the disco ball glitters, yet the jumpy door men are just "waiting . waiting waiting ".

Whether you empathise with the workers behind the scenes or perhaps even recognise some reflection of yourself in the characters enjoying a night out, love or loathe their real life representatives, these Bouncers will have you laughing so hard you'll have no energy for the dance floor later.

Reviewer: Cecily Boys