by John Godber.
Tour To 17 November 2012.
Runs: 1hr 50min One interval.
Review: Alan Geary 25 September at Theatre Royal Nottingham.
Up-dating doesn’t quite work, but entertaining all the same.
At the start we’re outside a joint called Asylum. Four ponderously menacing geezers in grey spell out in unison the word “Bouncers” but get stuck after the B and the O because one of them – he’s half man, half gorilla – can’t spell the rest of the word.
Despite the mistaken up-dating of music and text there’s still an early eighties ‘disco’ feel to the piece. It was certainly a blunder to change that appalling line where a tanked-up lout said to a less than beautiful girl “Can I borrer yer face? I’m goin’ rattin’ in the mornin’”. In this production he says “I’m goin’ to the dentist in the mornin’”, which has nothing like the same impact.
Nevertheless some gloriously low-life dialogue remains: “I hope I don’t get stabbed again,” says one bouncer to another as they limber up for the night’s work.
As well as bouncing, Ace Bhatti, Don Gilet, William Ilkley and Ian Reddington handle all the other characters. The hairdressing scene, where they switch to the girls preparing for the night out is brilliantly observed. And the mime is excellent, notably in a wickedly over-done scene in the gents.
This is highly physical, well-choreographed, theatre. There’s a memorable scene where an excerpt from a bluey – cheap and flickering and Swedish – is run forwards then backwards.
Reddington’s Lucky Eric, the most fully realised character, gets four well set-up monologues which neatly change the mood from fast and furious, accurately crafted street talk, to embarrassingly moving and poetic reflection, actually a bit like Dylan Thomas.
An enthusiastic first night audience for Bouncers included, oddly enough, four heavies in one row who looked worrying like the genuine article enjoying an off-duty night on the town. Initially you wondered whether they’d been planted there to help the show along.
Bouncers is no longer cutting-edge; but it continues to present an unlovely though touching picture of broken Britain. It’s a trifle over-long: you’ve got John Godber’s point some time before the hour and fifty minutes are up. All the same, it adds up to a seriously entertaining night out.
Ralph: Ace Bhatti.
Les: Don Gilet.
Judd: William Ilkley.
Lucky Eric: Ian Reddington.
Director: John Godber.
Designer: Pip Leckenby.
Lighting: Adrian Barnes.