It has to be said, I am a huge fan of writer/director/actor John Godber and an even bigger fan of Bouncers, so this probably wasn’t going to be a completely objective review – unless of course the company were terrible and did this fantastic work a disservice. With a name like The John Godber Company, however, this was highly unlikely. A little research confirms my initial thoughts – established in 2011 and run by the fantastic Jane Thornton and the great JG himself, The John Godber Company was established “with the purpose of allowing the playwright John Godber to continue expressing himself through the dramatic form”, having left Hull Truck in 2010.
Bouncers itself is not a new play by any means, having been written and initially performed in 1977, and it has aged beautifully. References to songs, behaviours and the antics of any Friday or Saturday night out in most of the towns and cities around the country in the 80’s are absolutely spot on. To be honest, some of the behaviours are still playing out of a weekend in night clubs even now.
The show tells the story of one night in a Yorkshire disco, told through the eyes of the ever-watching doormen Lucky Eric, Judd, Les and Ralph. But this is just one perspective we see, as the different characters arrive at the night club – the girls, the boys, the DJ and even those who don’t get in.
As expected, the production was smooth, slick, hilarious and left many of us nodding in agreement with a wry smile on our faces, remembering a time when the descriptions playing out in front of us belonged to our own selves and the weekend activities of the twenty somethings we once were.
The cast is small, just four men – Tom Whittaker, Frazer Hamill, George Reid and Lamin Touray. This quartet play the bouncers themselves along with several other characters each – around 30 between them. The acting ability of each of them is incredibly strong as they flip between playing 18-year-old women, posh rugger types, sleazy DJs and even hairdressers.
Frazer Hamill plays an excellent Lucky Eric, a younger casting than I have seen before, Hamill conveys the maturity required for the part with ease. Tom Whittaker meanwhile is an energetic scouser with top notch comic timing, making him a brilliant choice for playing both Ralph the bouncer and Sexy Susie. Judd is played by the imposing Lamin Touray who has real stage presence, and is pleasingly light on his feet in the spoof dance sections! Finally, George Reid has the part of Les(lie), and is the perfect combination of looks, slight sleaziness and more than a little stupidity.
The play itself is relatively short, leaving you wanting more, but knowing that your glimpse into that one night is over and safe in the knowledge that Lucky Eric and his crew will be doing it all over again for many nights to come.