Bouncers Review

Bouncers – Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The ReviewsHub


Writter and director: John Godber

Designer: Pip Leckenby

Lighting Designer: Adrian Barnes


Bouncers is 35 years old this year and according to author, John Godber, even though it has been updated for this 2012 production, the essence of the show never changed. Its update was merely replacing the music. He claims you can leave the theatre and in any town and city in the UK you will see the same performance played out in front of you in the bars, pubs and clubs across the land.

Bouncers is the story of a night out from the 3 different perspectives of the girls celebrating a 21st, the lads night out and the bouncers who keep an eye on them all. The same 4 actors -Ace Bhatti, Don Gilet, William Ilkley and Ian Reddington – play all the parts with the minimum of fuss. From scenes in the hairdressers with the girls, the barbers with the boys and the outside of the club with the bouncers, we even get to see part of a Swedish porn film all in the very sparse set, with just barrels as props. It’s the excellence of the acting, the writing and the lighting that sets you in the right place. There is a powerful imagery that Godbers writing conjures: the mascara-streaked faces of a group of tearful girls are “like a miner’s back in the shower” and discarded condoms lie like “dead Smurfs” around the back of the nightclub.

We can probably all relate to the night out, getting ready, having a drink and a dance and good time. And while Godber exaggerates the scenes for comic and dramatic effect it’s all very real. But the production and the cast give an outstanding performance of a play which is a classic of its type. The cast’s rapid changes from character to character, girl to boy to man, at first makes you feel that the characters are one dimensional and little more than caricatures, but gradually individuality begins to emerge. The actors don’t receive any help from costume changes – not even the addition or taking away of a single item of clothing (except that, as girls, they have white hand bags) – so they must use body language and voice. The fact that, by the end of the play, we recognise each character even before they begin to speak is a tribute to the cast.

In the middle of all the comedy we get Lucky Eric, Reddington, and his speeches. Each of the monologues gives you a pause for thought and we are left with more questions than answers and a profound idea of our own and state of the nation’s morality. The speech at the end describing a sex scene, with the boy pounding away and the girl feeling nothing and eating pizza, hits you so hard. With Bouncers now on the GCSE syllabus you can only hope and pray that any young girls reading this will be hit by the realism and outstanding imagery and maybe not go out in next to nothing, not go out and drink til they are unconscious or maybe not go out at all and cherish their childhood before being forced to grow up too soon