John Godber's incredible play about urban nightlife feels as fresh today as it ever has. Following a group of bouncers, lads on the town and girls on the razz (all played by the same four actors), it’s crude, honest and very funny.
For a production of Bouncers to work, a few of the references need updating, and DugOut do this on a couple of occasions, often raising strong laughs from the audience. The updated work on the DJ character is particularly imaginative, and the interaction with the front row is a nice touch.
Unfortunately the cast don’t do the play justice. Will Barwick as Lucky Eric, who punctuates the action with monologues and holds the plot together, is average at best. He does very well with the first speech, but the second is much less convincing. To give the play any substance these speeches need punch, and they aren’t really up to much here. Barwick has no chemistry or spark with the other characters, and the regular face-offs between himself and Judd (Luke Murphy) carry no energy or believability.
The cast fair better as the girls, with some particularly good choreography from Louisa Beadel, but the slightly more difficult sections with the lads are flat and dull. The scene with the re-enacting of an adult film is also very uninspiring. The main issue is the diction from the whole cast; regularly the words just aren’t clear, which is unforgiveable considering the joy of the play lies in Gober’s incredible writing. The most effective section is the ending, with a wonderful closing speech which is touching and delivered with a lovely sense of humanity.
The transitions between light settings (a regular feature in most productions of Bouncers) are ineffective here, and a little out of time, as are the sound cues. The stage is very large at The Sanctuary at Roxy, and the design doesn’t really fill it.
The pacing of this production is poor, and the progression doesn’t really work at all. There are snatches of skill and technique from these performers, but they don’t fill the ample shoes of previous companies.