During this review I will be discussing and comparing the main points of the play “Bouncers”, written by John Godber, which I attended on the 5th of October 2006 at the Queens theatre, Hornchurch. Firstly the basic plot of the play was a Saturday night out on the town from the different perspectives of a group of guys, a group of women, the bouncers of a club and other miscellaneous characters that are involved during the course of the play.
However there are only four actors throughout and therefore they have to play numerous characters. The group of guys that are portrayed are simply “out on the lash” so to speak and are absolutely intoxicated from the word go, since it is there big night of the week. Further more their whole aim of the play is about trying to get into the clubs and try and get some ladies. However you have the other main male characters the bouncers, who are simply on a routine night watching the doors reminiscing of previous experiences.
Also they compare one another’s attributes when it comes to fighting and they try and better each other, their main theme is one of ego. Referring back to the other side of the characters the women are “out on the razz” and have similar intensions of the male partygoers, of getting drunk and trying to snag a partner of the opposite sex. The main themes are ones of youthfulness, immaturity and fun loving carelessness. However despite these relatively innocent characteristics there are some rather solemn overtones, that if listened to can be very meaningful.
These implications are ones of sadness, because during the play one of the characters “Lucky Eric”, played by James Earl Adair, gives a number of speeches about young, slightly promiscuous girls in clubs being taken advantage of and how there demise should be a warning to other young women. Nevertheless the rest of the play remains very comical and light hearted. The play was set in the 1980s when partying, taking drugs and drinking excessively was at an all time high. Moving on the play was primarily set in a club called Hollywoods.
The mood of the play was exultant, joyous and comical, but now I am reiterating what I said earlier and despite these moods there are some sadder ones as well. The style of the play was supposed to be one of slick sophisticated characters and atmosphere that the audience are supposed to be in envy and fear of, meaning the bouncer characters, because they think they’re cool and people are frightened of them slightly. However because of the era that the play is set in, the 80s, this self-image of being “hard” is kept but the one of them being cool becomes comical.
Because the audience think their actions are funny e. . the way they introduce themselves becomes extremely funny with their preparations before going out. To sum up the style of the play is once again a comical one. My expectation of the play was that it would be a rather funny, but slightly boring, simplistic play purely about bouncers. However when I arrived and the play got going I was mistaken because it was very funny from the word go and there where a lot more characters than I initially expected. Moving on to the set as it was very interesting, to start it was a proscenium arch with a slight thrust and downwards slope towards the audience.
The stage was very simple, it was small only about 10 to 15 feet long and square with a chequered floor that could light up on certain panels, this was very effective as it could give the impression of a dance floor and this was very useful as the majority of the production was set in a nightclub. The backdrop was also very simple yet usefully effective; because it was merely a big set of blinds that could be changed to show where abouts the characters were, especially when they wanted to distinguish if they were inside or outside.
Finally the stage had small lights across the front and they were used to highlight a certain character to create focus on them and they were used to give an intimidating look on the characters face as the light was projected upwards towards them. (Below is an approximate illustration of the set. ) Moving on there was a distinct lack of props in the play, due to the simplistic style of it, but the ones that were used for example the beer kegs had several uses e. g. they were used as a chair, an actual beer keg an a weights bench.
The only other props that were used were women’s handbags, and these were purely used to show if the actors were female. Further more the actors and their performances, in my opinion I believe all the actors were terrific and they all portrayed their characters excellently. The first actor I am going to focus on is James Earl Adair. He had the lead parts amongst all the groups except the women, his roles were “Lucky Eric”, the ageing lead bouncer, “Bez” the top boy out of the young party going males and “Maureen” the slightly older contingent of the female group who had possibly had one night out too many.
He played all his characters excellently and as he was probably the most experienced actor involved had very good awareness of his fellow actors and had confidence in his pronunciation of his lines that was noticeable as he did not stutter or hesitate once in the production, and this was down to his self confidence that has come from understanding of the occupation and he has this because as I have been informed he has had a flourishing career that has taken him through numerous avenues of significance in the theatre and sitcom world. Throughout the play he possessed class and he developed a delightful relationship with the audience.
Secondly another actor that I took particular notice of was the talented Richard Brightiff. He had the roles of “Ralph”, the bouncer that specialised in martial arts and took himself very seriously, and also he had the quite opposite character of “Sexy Susie”, apparently a beautiful woman who is up for pulling a guy if she feels like it. And I use the term “women” loosely as obviously she is played by a man, but that’s where the talent comes in, because Richard Brightiff has the hard task of representing himself as a woman, well so do the other actors, but he has to act in a way that the audience know what character he his.
He does this in a number of ways, firstly he carries a handbag this is one of a few visual aids for this. Secondly he changes his walk from a manly stumble to an eccentric feminine waltz, with pirouettes that entertain the audience greatly and create simple humour, he also frequently tries to give a sexual vibe by rubbing his hands up and down his body because he’s supposed to be this glamorous, Essex girl that all the boys are after. Thirdly he changes the way he talks for example, his voice gets higher and squeakier and his facial expression becomes a feminine pout and this is all becomes extremely amusing, much to the audiences delight.
Referring back to the actor’s appearance, their costumes are of intriguing selection as they have the same outfit throughout the entire play and they only alter this minutely to give the hint of a change in character. Their Costume consists purely of a tuxedo, and all of the actors wear this. The choice of costume is very effective as it is smart and every one wants to be smart whilst on a night out and that’s also what bouncers wear in real life.
The only time they change is when they untuck their shirts when they are in the character of the male partiers to give the impression of sloppy drunkenness, and when they are the bouncer characters they tuck the shirts in and button up their blazer. Finally on costumes, when they are acting as the women they unbutton their blazers and hold the bottom of it to give the impression that they are wearing a skirt. Moving on to lighting, the arrangement was also once again a simple one, with the spotlight highlighting a certain actor when they had a prolonged line or if they had a poignant speech that needed to be focused on.
The lighting changed when the scene was in the nightclub, they turned into flashing coloured lights or they had a disco ball effect with silver flashes. Also when they were outside it had a simple streetlamp yellow light them on the stage and this subsequently met the mood of the scene well. Finally on lighting when their was a fight scene the lighting went black apart from the backdrop and it created a silhouette effect and the actors slowed down and also there was strobe lighting used for fight scenes and these both gave a very intense outcome.
There was not a lot of music and sound in the play but when it was incorporated it was either one of classic 80s background music or when it was needed sound effects for certain scenes e. g. when there was a fight it had the sound of people getting punched or kicked etc. In conclusion I believe that “Bouncers” was a very successful play, and I would recommend anyone to see it. Further more I have reason to believe that it is a very meaningful play as it gives an insight into the other side of an evening on the town and that side is the hard, lonesome yet enthralling life that is the life of a bouncer.