Tuesday, April 23

Bouncers – Blackpool Grand

If your name’s not on the list, you’re not coming in… Bouncers is back in Blackpool with a bang! Named as one of The National Theatre’s ‘Plays of the Century’, John Godber’s classic is at the Grand Theatre for a very limited run. With a contemporary introduction for a 2024 audience, Bouncers quickly returns to its roots. Keeping faith with Godber’s original script, packed with humour and nostalgia, this new production takes us back to the 1980s when disco was king, and everyone lived for the weekend.

Les, Ralph, Judd and Lucky Eric (played wonderfully by George Reid, Tom Whittaker, Nick Figgis and Frazer Hammill respectively) take us on the journey back to relive a night in nightclub “Mr Cinders”. With an exhilarating, toe-tapping 80s soundtrack, this production is as fantastic for its stylised choreography as it is for its frenetic, vulgar comedy. Packed with references from “Chelsea Girl” to “Brookside”, some may be lost on a young modern audience but for most these evoked memories of their own. Illustrating the true essence of an ensemble cast, all four actors superbly take on multiple roles expertly changing from a burly bouncer to a giggling girl (and everything in between!) in the blink of an eye. With minimal set, costumes and props, our whole attention is given to the four actors who never leave the stage and indeed barely pause for breath. With much of the action directed straight to the audience, it is impossible to watch and not feel involved in the action. Graham Kirk’s lighting design really helped the flow of the piece and the scene, adding interest and texture to the action. The use of small spotlights were simple yet very effective.

Under the direction of Jane Thornton, this production is a masterclass in how to successfully deliver physical comedy. It is fast, furious and exceptionally funny. The urinal and hairdresser scenes really showcased the versatility of the cast as they depicted two very different situations, yet both hilariously believable and relatable. The re-enacting of a Swedish blue movie, and the subsequent rewind section, was genius and the appreciative Blackpool crowd rightly lapped it up. You may wonder whether the play could still be relevant for an audience of today? Well, it absolutely is. In particular, the more serious tones of Lucky Eric’s speeches really hit home with issues faced to women that are still faced today, almost 50 years since the play premiered.

Overall, this was a well accomplished revival of a classic comedy. The beauty of the piece is in the timelessness of its characters. They are ordinary people we can relate to and see ourselves in. This could be any bar or nightclub any of us have been to in our youth and encountered the very same situations. You’ll laugh, reminisce, then laugh some more. If you’ve never seen Bouncers, you must go! If you’ve seen it before, go again!

Bouncers is at Blackpool Grand Theatre until Saturday 24th February. Book tickets here: https://www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk/event/bouncers

Reviewer: Paddy Darnell-Walsh

Reviewed: 21st February 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.