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Shakers (Hornchurch, Queen's Theatre)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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What do you do for a main-house show when the masculine part of your repertory company is busy touring secondary schools and sixth-form colleges with John Godber and Jane Thornton’s Bouncers? You make the obvious choice – and mount the sister show Shakers. What’s more, as Bouncers is playing in a cut-down version, you throw in some cut-price performances of it as a curtain-raiser.

Matt Devitt is the director for the fast-moving examination of four girls serving cocktails in a not-so-smart part of town. They’re there basically because it’s the only job on offer, not because it’s a career choice. Carole wants to use her degree to become a professional photographer. Adele has a young daughter to bring up, on her own. Mel hopes to settle down with Steve, but will her past with Paul catch up with her? Nicky just wants to get on with life.

There has been some clever up-dating of the text of the 1985 original (2012 bankers with bonuses and TOWIE stars among them). This has become standard for the play, as with Bouncers, It’s given a glittering set by Claire Lyth, all shine and see-through tables, chairs and bar-stools. The girls wear black with spangled jackets; you can see why the idea of substituting shorts (of the miniscule variety) isn’t a popular idea.

As well as the four waitresses, Natasha Moore (Adele), Rachel Dawson (Carole), Lucy Thornston (Mel) and Laura Pitt-Pulford (Nicky), play a host of customers both male and female, including a raucous 21st birthday celebration party, sundry men on the pull, a chef taking it out in unseemly ways on his over-fussy diners and some ghastly show-off couples. They’re all very good and carry the audience with them.


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