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
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
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
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