Camden Fringe 2013
A rather hilarious parody of the Leeds nightclub scene told from the point of view of four of the club’s bouncers.
Playwright John Godber’s award-winning observational comedy, Bouncers, takes the plunge at this year’s Camden Fringe. A parody of the Leeds 70s club scene as well as a social commentary of the time, Godber’s night-time drama involves four bouncers, all of who work at Mr Cinders Nightclub.
Here it is set in the present day – references to Justin Bieber and Claudia Winkleman provide the hint – and Spud Theatre Company is in fine form. We have Lucky Eric, the older, philosophising bouncer and resident social commentator, imparting his nightly observations, Judd, Ralph, and Les – all stereotypically brutish and bullish.
Godber’s work is often characterised by swift and frequent character changes, with actors taking on many roles. Here is no exception. The four male actors portray a whole host of additional characters, including four men out on the pull, four handbag-wielding women out on the razzle, some drunken football fans, some out-of-towners refused entry for being out-of-towners, a well-to-do southerner in search of ‘another bottle of champers’, a club DJ, and other recognizable stereotype regulars of the clubbing scene.
In portraying over twenty different characters, there’s real scope for the actors to stretch their wings. There’s an easy rapport between the ensemble as they move quickly through the series of sketches. The play shows the many sides to being a bouncer, their observations, their weekend agendas, failing chat-up lines, vomiting in the loo – all are colourfully and comically familiar. There are some real laugh-out loud moments – inside the hairdressing salon fixing hairdos before the big night out at Mr Cinders, or the pushy punters in the pub scene with too many people making a scramble for the bar, for example.
Tough in honesty and a well-observed take on a wide range of characters, there are some very funny moments. The show was let down by the odd lapse in energy – perhaps to do with the unbearable heat in the auditorium – and some jokes fell fairly flat, but nonetheless this is a sound reworking of a play that is fast becoming a classic.