Thursday 8th November
We were promised laughter from start to finish on opening night - and we were not disappointed.
The four 'Bouncers' pose outside the Pomegranate - (l-r) Ace Bhatti, Ian Reddington, Don Gilet and William Ilkley
Four men, four white handbags and a couple of beer barrels hold centre stage at Chesterfield's Pomegranate Theatre this week - to STUNNING effect.
However Bouncers, written by John Godber, isn't what you might expect from the title.
Not a play about four macho men flexing their muscles at the doors of various drinking and dancing establishments around the identikit towns.
Not a theatrically licensed job description either.
It is simply the best part of 90 minutes of a wickedly observed, and cleverly woven, microcosm of events of one night out - from three points of view.
Four actors - Ian Reddington (Eastenders), Ace Bhatti (Spooks), Don Gilet (Eastenders) and William Ilkley (Hollyoaks) play four bouncers - 'Lucky' Eric, Ralph, Les and Judd.
In the course of time they also morph into four 'lads' - Kev, Baz, Terry and Jerry and, with just the props of handbags slung nonchalantly, four girls - Maureen, Elaine, Rosie and Suzie.
Describing the punters' journey through the hairdressers (not ones like you will ever have visited before), the pub crawl before arrival at the 'Asylum' - and the bouncers arrival at work and the build up to their job, John Godber and the cast pull off the seamless transition from character to character and in the process observe, entertain but also provoke thought on the consequences of what appears to be a fun, cobweb blowing Friday night jaunt, but one which has a seedy and dark side.
The 'fab four' in all parts are hugely engaging, portraying forms of 'dad' dancing, mincing and butch one-upmanship with equal skill and humour, but it's the nuances, the looks, the mimicry and the girlish giddiness which provokes guffaws and squeals of knowledgeable laughter from the packed stalls.
John Godber has surpassed himself with the descriptive one liners - describing the after effects of the inevitable drink filled couplings as seeing 'condoms scattered like dead smurfs' around the place.
There is however, as the play unfolds, a nod to the dark side of the night cloaked world - the 'seen it all' world-weariness of the 'Bouncers' as they predict the sights of the evening ahead and the wry 'debriefing' of their evening on the doors towards the end.
Interwoven through are the four soliloquies by Lucky Eric (Reddington) which capture the mind - calmly delivered, in a fierce spotlight mid stage. They describe the sad and drunken underbelly of the night club world - the young, underage girls dressing up and trying to be women without realisation of the consequences - and the advantage taking young men who prey like vultures on women so drunk as to be virtually unconscious and certainly non-consensual.
Modern music and recognisable ditties make this three-decade-old play modern, but I, like many, was taken back many years ago to the Aquarius and the memories of a mis-spent youth!
And that I guess, is the key to success of Bouncers - a look back down Memory Lane through the eyes of someone else, but with the clarity of mind and wisdom of age - a representation of our ability to laugh at our teen selves but - through the title roles - with a nod to adult moral caution.
Bouncers is there all week - I can heartily recommend buying a ticket.
Written by John Godber
Starring Ace Bhatti, Don Gilet, Ian Reddington and Bill Ilkley
Contact Pomegranate Theatre Box Office for ticket details.
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