SEARCH
Medea
REVIEWS
Mouth to Mouth

Bouncers

By • West End
WOS Rating:
Bouncers first burst onto the scene in 1977 at the Edinburgh Festival. Since then, it has become a staple of the annual Fringe programme there, toured all over the world, been voted one of 100 most significant plays of the 20th century, and made John Godber - as far as playwrights go - a household name.

This new version, care of Godber's Hull Truck Theatre home, emerged in 1998 as a 21st anniversary celebration of the original. It features updated cultural references - to Robbie Williams, S-Club 7, etc - though the premise remains the same. It's Friday night, the weekend's gathering speed and the only place to be is the Mr Cinders' nightclub where the bouncers hold all the power.

Godber himself joins the four-strong cast - accompanied by Andrew Dunn, Zach Lee and Andrew Dennis - who render the muscle-bound doormen, intent on averting (or in some cases instigating) a "conflict situation", as well as a pantheon of 20-odd characters, from the gaggle of lipsticked birds dancing round their handbags to raucous punks, stag nighters, over-the-hill limelighters, slimy deejays and, of course, the group of lager-swilling libido-revved lads on the pull.

All four performers are adept at assuming their various personae, and the result is a clutch of very funny set-pieces scattered throughout Gareth Tudor Price's well-choreographed production - not least the blokes fretting over their toiletries and myriad candidates for the Ministry of Funny Dances. But giggles aside, it's hard not to leave Bouncers feeling a tad unsatisfied - there's just not enough there to sate the dramatic appetite.

The slice-of-life vignettes are bitty, superficial and ultimately aimless - or at any rate, devoid of plot. And the intermittent grave interludes in the form of Lucky Eric's speeches, primarily concerning the exploitation of young women, left me feeling uneasy and manipulated. They smack of liberal afterthought, as if Godber were attempting to compensate for spending the other 90% of the play's running time sending up the good-time characters with a scant few minutes of judgmental pity.

But maybe I'm being a killjoy; few others in the audience seemed in the least concerned with Bouncers' dark underbelly. On the evening I attended, the stalls were populated by a crowd very much "Friday night" themselves, nipping out to the bar, guffawing loudly and chanting along to the musical numbers.

For my money, you'll find better evidence of multi-tasking talent in the Irish two-hander Stones in His Pockets and a more poignant portrayal of youthful follies and nightclub angst in the musical A Slice of Saturday Night.

Still, it's hard to argue with longevity, an area where Bouncers has more than earnt its stripes. And if you want evidence that the play is reaching cult status of a Rocky Horror ilk, you need look no further than the front row ladies sporting their bouncers' bow ties.

Terri Paddock


comments powered by Disqus
X

More in Reviews

Mouth to Mouth

Read Now »

By providing information about entertainment and cultural events on this site, WhatsOnStage.com shall not be deemed to endorse,
recommend, approve and/or guarantee such events, or any facts, views, advice and/or information contained therein.

©1999-2014 WhatsOnStage.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use & Privacy Policy