A/V Room









It's worth being refused entry to these Bouncers

Review by David Munro

WHEN Theatregoers are enticed to a production by the promise of single price tickets and a bottle of beer, as those of Richmond were for the current production of Bouncers, little alarm bells start to ring in your critics head.

By the end of the show, the bells were ringing loud and clear, a knell of doom.

For despite the fact that it is described as a comedy, what appeared at Richmond was no play, but a series of character vignettes strung loosely together by the fiction that those performing them were, or are, bouncers at a seedy nightclub, who discuss their friends, acquaintances and the patrons of the club.

It is revue-style entertainment, which requires revue or cabaret artists of the highest calibre to carry it off successfully, as witness the recent performances, at the same theatre, of Fascinating Aida. However, this was no Fascinating Aida, more a Charmless Carmen.

Although John Altman and Nigel Pivarro are billed as the stars of the show, it is in fact a team effort, in which they are supported and, in most case, outclassed by the two other actors, Christopher Connel and Andrew Dennis.

The four spend the evening singing a bit, dancing, or perhaps more aptly cavorting, around the stage and impersonating the various types of their acquaintance, both male and female.

The female impersonations were examples of drag acts of the lowest calibre; Camp gestures and movements with a total lack of finesse, that turned the portrayals into pantomime dame caricatures.

Admittedly, they were dressed throughout in tuxedos, and had to rely on props to differentiate the characters but, if, as is alleged, the play has won several awards, the previous occupants of the roles must have achieved some credibility in their performances.

One is informed by the advertising material that they 'portray a sparkling cast of over 40 all-too recognisable characters from the traditional Friday night experience….'

Well that is as maybe: I did not bother to count all the characterisations as, after a while, they all appeared to be all too boringly similar.

For which blame must be apportioned between the cast and the director, who appeared to have allowed them to camp up their performances without restraint.

This was basically cabaret material and required the ambience of a club theatre or bar atmosphere to achieve its effect. In the cavernous stage of the Richmond Theatre all the nuances of the performance, if any, were lost in the attempt to get the material across the footlights effectively.

We are told, again in the publicity handout, that it was chosen by the National Theatre as one of the top 100 plays of the 20th Century.

One wonders what the other 99 were, as, if this production is anything to go by, they must have been Brian Rix farces and French sex comedies, because it is risible to mention this piece in the same breath as plays by Shaw, Osborne, Maugham, Coward, John Whiting, David Hare or Christopher Fry, to name but a handful of authors who have contributed so magnificently to the British theatre in the last century.

Bouncers, by John Godber. Director, Gareth Tudor Price; Designer, Pip Leckenby; Costumes by Moss Bros;
Lighting Designer, Michael Odam; WITH John Altman; Nigel Pivarro; Andrew Dennis; Christopher Connel.
Produced by Ambassador Theatre Group Productions and Incidental Colman Tod Ltd. At Richmond Theatre, The Little Green, Richmond, Surrey. Performance Times. Mon, August 4 - 9, 2003, 7.45 pm
Mat: Wed & Sat - 2.30pm. Tickets 020 8940 0088

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