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Verdict: Glitter-balls, cocktails, 1980s music
Director Matt Devitt drills to the roots of the script by John Godber. He avoids presenting Bouncers as a piece of theatre set in a nightclub. Instead he turns the theatre into a nightclub – in the 1980s. As the doors open, the four cast members loiter in the auditorium, eyeing up the crowd. The lights dim, and they go on stage.
Bouncers Lucky Eric (James Earl Adair), Ralph (Richard Brightiff), Les (Philip Reed) and Judd (Steve Simmonds) tell the story of what happens during the night, the actors switching from one character to the next. Their best performances are flawless and extremely funny celebrity impressions. The different personalities of the bouncers are far more developed than the other characters - in particular, the gaggle of girls attending the club. In portraying women, the actors fall too easily into female stereotypes and seem more focused on becoming ‘a woman’ than in creating her character. The exception is Steve Simmonds, who delivers feisty Elaine as a three-dimensional and likeable woman. His performances and comic timing are sharp and well-considered. James Earl Adair stands out as Lucky Eric, captivating attention with his speeches and deftly switching the mood between raucous comedy and serious contemplation. In these moments, and in the other occasions when the dialogue slows, there is a true sense of magic. The actors deliver strong physical performances including mime and tightly-choreographed – and very funny - dance routines. The dialogue could sometimes be faster. More attention could be paid to the script’s subtleties and understated comedy.
Dance sequences are skilfully choreographed by Elizabeth Marsh. Lighting is adeptly designed by Andy Rouse. The set is artistically crafted by Rodney Ford - only the slightly confusing backcloth seems out of place in relation to a nightclub.
The venue presents the performance very much as a nostalgia event, aimed perhaps at a target audience that grew up in the 1980s – the age of glitter balls and cocktails. From Judd's mullet hairstyle to the nostalgic but uplifting soundtrack, Bouncers is less of a theatrical performance and more of a trip back in time.
Cast Credits: (alpha order): James Earl Adair - Lucky Eric. Richard Brightiff - Ralph. Philip Reed - Les. Steve Simmonds - Judd.
Company Credits: Writer – John Godber. Director - Matt Devitt. Designer - Rodney Ford. Lighting Designer - Andy Rouse. Choreographer - Elizabeth Marsh. Company - Cut To The Chase.
(c) Claire Roberts 2006
reviewed Monday 2 October 06 / Queens Theatre, Hornchurch
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