Feb 06

John Godber’s Bouncers stands the test of time

Review by Julie Marshall in the Wakefield Express, 1st February 2019:


My association with John Godber’s award-winning play Bouncers goes back many years – almost to the very beginning.

I first saw it at Theatre Royal Wakefield in 1985, a year after the original play was premiered. I was with a group of friends, all in our early twenties, two of our number had never been to the theatre before and had to be dragged there reluctantly.

Such is the power of this play, by the time it was over, their attitude had changed and they went on to become lifelong theatre lovers.

There’s something about Bouncers that touches people, working class men in particular. They can relate to the subject matter in a way that makes it real: a drunken night in a city centre club and the interaction between the many characters.

The Bouncers are Lucky Eric, Judd, Les and Ralph who preside majestically over the door of Mr Cinders, a typically northern club which has been brought up to date by Godber for this latest version of his most performed play. The dialogue has also been tweaked to reflect the more liberal society of the 21st century.

The actors don’t disappoint. Peter McMillan (Judd); Lamin Toray (Ralph), Duncan Riches (Les) and Frazer Hammill (Lucky Eric) all have to play multiple parts and segue seamlessly from portraying hard-as-nails bouncers to four lads on a bender and even four handbag-wielding women on a hen night.

Their only props, a couple of beer barrels, a few crowd control barriers and four handbags.

They also have to transform themselves into Hooray Henrys, punks and, most hilariously of all a pair of Swedish porn stars – luckily the film that two of the bouncers are watching ‘breaks down’ before anything too smutty is witnessed.

Bouncers is funny, tragic and a delight to watch and listen to – particularly when Lucky Eric makes his speeches on the meaning of life.

If you’ve never seen it, it’s about time you did.

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