GREAT theatre it ain’t but Dave Simpson’s Girls’ Night Out has been packing ‘em in since 1996 here and abroad.
The story line is no great shakes: a predictable farce gluing together Chippendale-type performances from the lads.
The heavily pregnant bride Jane (Rachael McGuiness, best known for her live comedy across the north-west) is worse for drink - and she of all people should know that spells disaster - as she sets out on a hen night to cap all hen nights. With ladette sister Sarah (the charismatic Bethany Turner) leading the way, the girls lurch from Auntie’s Southern Comforts and nibbles to the Feast of Flesh spectacular.
Here, tongues loosened by alcopops, secrets spill as Auntie Sue (the ubiquitous Amanda Bellamy perhaps best recognised for her RSC performances and as Rose in Little Dorrit) reveals more than she should – along with her ‘nice but dim’ son Tony (KickOff’s Ian Sharp) and his mates whose chaotic rehearsals culminate in a showdown of whirling cloaks, satin thongs, broken hearts and home truths.
Tim’s fiancée Shirley Darroch - Kelloggs’ Drop a Jean Size - gets her thrills from bargain hunting for a bottom drawer the size of a B&Q kitchen while each of the men has their own flimsy story to tell: misogynist Darren (Joe Ransom, Two Pints of Lager) has a habit of exaggerating; gorgeous Robbie (Mark Willshire – Ash in the UK tour of Never Forget) harbours a secret; and groom in a tizz (Harry Capehorn - who starred in BAFTA nominated Harry and Cosh) has a decision to make.
With an incredibly diverse audience packing The Princess Theatre, Torquay on Press night, age seemed no indicator of enjoyment with grannies clapping and giggling along with the teens. The handful of men awkwardly set their faces into a rictus of a grin but were swamped by pink boas and flashing furry bunny ears.
The teasing routines are choreographed by Tracy Lane and are exactly what the audience expected, if the deluge of knickers thrown onto the stage is anything to go by, while Ian Horrocks-Taylor’s pulsating soundtrack had the audience clapping along.
In a final attempt to stay on track with a review – although I doubt anyone considering buying tickets for this tour will be remotely interested – Simon Scullion’s set is simple and versatile but takes a tad too long to convert from nightclub to changing room which slowed the pace of the building frenzy among the audience. In reality I suspect no one much cared where the cast were, just what they were thrusting or not wearing at any given time.