I went to a live theatre trip to watch ‘Bouncers’ on Friday 9th December at the Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton. ‘Bouncers’ is written by John Godber and is set in and around a nightclub called ‘Mr Cinders’, with the action focusing on the exploits of four doormen and their customers. Multi-rolling is used mainly when the four bouncers tell the stories of different stereotypical men and women. For example when Godber contrasts a male and female hairdressers, the woman talk about their big night out, and what they are wearing. For the men however, again they plan their night out, but are discussing the possibility of pulling.
Direct Address and Monologues are predominately used by the character ‘Lucky Eric’. Eric delivers his speeches throughout the play. During his first he talks about young girls dressed up and made up, spending everything they make on their nights out at the weekend, drinking too much and succumbing to the advances of men. ‘Lucky Eric’s’ speeches are used to slip in messages about the negative features of nightlife. I like how Godber has done this to change the mood of the audience. When watching I would go from Laughing to being very serious listening to Eric’s speeches. During the start of act two, Direct Address is used again when the Bouncers acknowledge the audience, asking what they are laughing at. This was effective because it pulled your attention straight back after the interval. These techniques are the key characteristics of the play, and are included and used effectively throughout.
The set is very minimal for ‘Bouncers’ and includes 4 barrels and a nightclub door. I think the minimalist set works really well because it doesn’t take the attention away from the actors. The quick pace and lack of set means that the actors have only themselves to rely on in making each character and location come to life. The four actors wear suits to resemble bouncers. Wearing suits worked especially well during the interval and before we entered the arena.
The four Bouncers stood outside the theatre in the foyer, and let the audience in like actual bouncers, breaking the fourth wall. They also patrolled the arena and foyer during the interval, staying in character. This gave the illusion that they weren’t acting. This worked well because the play changes direction frequently which makes it difficult for the audience to relax. Therefore their minds stay alert and questioning. I thought the play was very interesting and comical to watch, and I loved how the comic parts of the play are harshly contrasted with serious issues about nightlife. We see this contrast when ’Lucky Eric’ performs his monologues. I like this because it keeps the audiences minds active.
My favourite part of the play was when the scene changes and the bouncers become the girls again. They are on the dance floor. Rosie feels sick and then sees her boyfriend kissing another girl. The tears flow. This was my favourite part because of the stereotypical emotional women and the over the top scenarios helped portray the different characters. Another part of the play I enjoyed was when the Bouncers are complaining about the cold and are planning to watch a pornographic film when their shift ends. Soon after Ralph and Eric become characters in the porn film and act out a scene whilst Les and Judd provide a running commentary. This was effective because of its comic value but also backed up Godber’s stereotypical man.
Lucky Eric was my favourite character In particular since I enjoyed his thoughtful speeches which were a quiet lull amid all the shouting. I also liked Eric because he speaks directly to and acknowledges the audience. Eric tells the other bouncers that his wife has left him, taking the children with him which gives us an insight about why Eric is such a disturbed man, which adds another layer to the piece, and most people would agree that the sequence in which Suzy is taken advantage of behind the club is one of the most disturbing and memorable in the play, a scene in which Eric tells. There was underlying 21st century music playing constantly throughout the play that gave the audience the feeling of being inside and out of the Night club. Many references to singers and celebrities of this century brought the play up to date, which made it more enjoyable for a younger target audience.
I would recommend this performance because it gave me an insight on nightlife and even though it was comical, Godber’s exposed a much more profound subject, whilst also showing the stereotypical nature of what the youth of the day did. In the lads, the girls and the bouncers Godber tries to convey that these characters are typical of Britain. He shows the funny side of the way in which young people act whilst also unearthing a more sinister subject in suggesting that drink is changing the nation. We see it in all of the characters. For example, the lads were talking amongst themselves very nicely before they go, however, once they leave, a fight breaks out in the club when they have had a little too much to drink. Bouncers also mixes styles – for example, prose, verse and song are blended together.
This also serves to keep the audience’s minds active. The language is shaped so that it is clearly recognisable to the plays target audience. This was clear because the script has bold and crude lines but also clever innuendo’s, which was funny for an older and younger audience. The cast of ‘Bouncers’ switched seamlessly from their roles as club bouncers, to lads on the make and even giggly girls portraying the youth of the day preparing for the big night out. This was outrageous, and even a little sinister.
Overall I think ‘Bouncers’ is a clever, funny and interesting play. I think the small arena and staging worked well because it enabled you to feel close to the characters, a sentiment they intended to evoke and made the monologues have more impact. I loved how they brought the script up to date by including relevant jokes and features that the youth of today understand. It had quick pace and kept my mind questioning. All things considered, this thoroughly enjoyable rendition of Godber’s comedy provided an entertaining night.