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Girls' Night Out (Tour - Manchester)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Fun, frothy and full of frivolity is the best way to describe this adaptation of Paul Farrah's original play.

The plot, such as it is, is simple. Four women - a bride to be (Jane), her sister, her best friend and her aunt - are all preparing to go out on Jane's hen night. To complicate things she's also 8 months pregnant. Unknown to their partners, Jane's fiancé Pete plus her best friend's fiancé Tony have just joined the group of strippers working in a male lap dancing club. Tonight, after some awful rehearsals, is their first night performing in front of the crowds.

Yes, you've guessed it – that's where the girls are going for their hen party.

The plot does try to give more than this simplistic outline, but unfortunately fails since all the characters are more two dimensional than the plot. The over-consumption of alcohol means that secrets are revealed by the women including the aunt's affair and the fact that the baby is not Jane's fiancé's. At the end of Tony's first performance his fiancée Nicola recognises him, and so the scene is set for Act 2 and the inevitable breaking up and making up that follows.

Despite the rather limited plot and even more limited characterisation, the actors work hard to create a show that the audience can enjoy. Amanda Bellamy as aunt Sue, and Bethany Turner and Rachael McGuinness as sisters Sarah and Jane, all work hard to give good performances; but it is Shirley Darroch as the frigid compulsive shopper Nicola who outshines them.

Ian Sharp as naïve Tony is also very good, and a great foil to his more worldly wise friend Pete (Harry Capehorn). However it is Joe Ransom's big-mouthed Darren and Mark Willshire's understated Robbie who make the most of their roles, giving memorable turns. Willshire is also the best dancer in the group.

Simon Scullion's set is nicely created with a few pieces of furniture which can transform from lounge, to nightclub, to backstage dressing room. However the large number of scene changes mean that it becomes tedious to watch yet another shift between uses.

Choreographer Tracy Lane creates the stripper's dances in true Full Monty style and any red-blooded female will appreciate the amount of nicely toned male flesh on display. The trouble is that the male bodies are the best thing about this play, which means it really is only a Girls' Night Out!

- Helen Jones


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