Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

shakers cast

Kirsty Baxter as Carol, Poppy Cooksey-Heyfron as Adele, Rachael  Skerrett as Nicky and Amanda Blockley ( as Mel.

Shakers re-stirred

Swan Theatre Amateur Company

Swan Theatre, Worcester


Hen parties and yuppies on the pull are the stock in trade for the cocktail bar staff of trendy, in-place, town centre nightspot Shakers.

It is a bar where we meet the four supermarket till girls drinking and giggling – then crying – their way through a 21st birthday party, the louche men about (small) town with their pathetic jokes and tedious sexual innuendo, telling lies about working late to wives who probably don’t care while they carry on affairs and an up market ladies’ night theatre party slumming it with the peasants.

All served by four long suffering waitresses who each have a tale to tell when the spotlight falls on them and the life and hopes they hide behind the have a nice day smile they show to the world. There is Adele played by Poppy Cooksey-Hayfron who is trying to bring up a daughter from a marriage that ended years ago and who will do anything to keep her job.

There is some friction, particularly with Mel as she leaves early from time to time to collect her daughter.

Mel, played by Amanda Blockley, is the hard-nosed one, the nuclear option to get rid of people trying to come in when Shakers is closed. She is engaged to be married but has a secret which perhaps explains her problem with Adele and her child.

Then there is Carol, played by Kirsty Baxter, who is worried about her large thighs as she tries skinny jeans several sizes too small. She has a BA and wants to be a photographer, and has tried hard to break into the industry. She resents being regarded as thick by the clientele, many who see the waitresses as a cross somewhere between slaves and one night stands. She cannot understand how she has a degree and works as a waitress while the uncouth, ignorant, tedious customers “in designer gear, looking like men who drink Belgian beer” have good jobs, making loadsa money.


Then there is Nicky, who we discover is about to leave for a new career which both delights and frightens her. It is a dream job but, as she says: “What do you do when your dreams come true? What do you dream of then?”

It is a credit to the cast that they put flesh on their characters so that you feel for all four waitresses with their lives hidden behind the plastic, smiley face they show to a world where the customer is always right and funny even if they are moronic and amusing as toothache.

The quartet slip seamlessly in and out of every other character who come through the doors of the trendy place to be whether it be the four shop girls who saw a good night out and getting legless as the same adventure, obnoxious couples, lads on a night out sniggering at cock . . . tails – oh what fun they have - or the overpaid, underbrained yuppies necking Martinis.

The characterisations are all well done, with the instant switches managed with nothing more than mannerisms and a change of voice or accent, with some lovely physical touches. There some comic gems in the script and each little nugget is given a polished delivery to create a funny and, at times, thoughful production.

It’s 40 years since John Godber’s Bouncers created a new genre of theatre and Shakers, written with his wife Jane Thornton, first appeared in 1985. It was re-stirred with this revised version in 1991, but 26 years on, the proof that nothing really changes is laid bare, the characters are still recognisable, still hanging around trendy bars, still telling the same old jokes, still sniggering at anything that can be given a sexual overtone, they are still offering to give waitresses one, still telling wives they are working, still playing away – still ordering seafood pasta . . .

Directed by Jane Lush Shakers is definitely the place to be until 26-08-17.

Roger Clarke


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