four bouncers


The Swan Theatre, Worcester


Bouncers is perhaps John Godber’s most successful play, depicting a boozy Friday night in a Yorkshire town. Four actors make rapid switches between various roles: bouncers of course at the night club door, girls at the hairdressers; boys at the barber’s shop sprucing themselves up for a night on the town; the randy lads in the pub getting the early booze before heading to the night club in the late evening.

Some try to access and run up against the bouncers, some get in, the drunken dances, toilet scenes, and finally the taxis at the end of the evening – it’s the story of the Friday night out when the bawdy youth of the town with their competitive bragging try to get drunk and get laid.

Rapping songs introduce and conclude the play. The performers are in your face with the slick and smart coordinated dance moves and flashing disco lights, the loud music - it’s slick, fast, and it’s coarse.

Graphic demonstrations of the spittle, the shit, the frozen snot, the vomit, the urination – it pulls no punches. There are just a few moments when Lucky Eric steps into a pool of light to reflect, to show signs of greater depth of reaction to the shallow and loud entertainment. Is this really the best that life can offer? ‘It’s all about ego and image’.

This production does full justice to the play. The four performers – Rob Holman, Laurence Saunders, Andy Watkins and Phil Yarrow – are excellent in their versatility, with quick transitions between characters and moods, their physical movement and coordination, their interactions. With the skilful use of sound and lighting and a very basic set, they caricature the teenage and youth of the eighties night club scene brilliantly.

What was Godber trying to achieve here? Was it a celebration of the indulgent freedom of the sexually liberated generation that followed the era of the Beatles and the Rolling Sto nes? Is it to shock or amuse? With his razor-sharp observation and wit, it is an exposé of the shallow and degraded youth scene of the eighties. The toxic mixture of alcohol and lust leading to violence, abuse and frustration.

Ian Good’s direction and the talented performance of the actors maintains loads of energy, pace and humour. Bouncers runs at the Swan Theatre until Saturday 13th.

Tim Crow


Worcester Rep

Index page Reviews A-Z