A double-bill at Spalding’s South Holland Centre this week is one not to miss. Local amateur group, St Nicolas Players, have brought the 1980s back to life with Bouncers by John Godber and Shakers Re-stirred by John Godber and Jane Thornton.
I first saw Bouncers many years ago when the Hull Truck Theatre company was touring with this iconic play about four doormen policing a seedy club, Mr Cinders. St Nics version of the play had the same pace and energy, the four actors switching between a whole myriad of characters: the lads out on the pull, the girls desperate to be noticed, the Hooray Henrys knocking back the champagne. As drink takes a hold, facades peel away to reveal inadequacies, aggression, sadness and, ultimately, violence.
Lucky Eric, played with great skill by Tom Millard, punctuated the events of the evening with his speeches which highlighted the tawdry, grubby underside of life as seen by a bouncer. Judd (Rob Nicholls) was picked on by his colleagues for being a brute with no brain; as a woman he was the sad, sweating friend who was aching to be noticed and loved. Troy Melvin, playing Ralph, the lynch pin of the four bouncers, also shone as the cheesy, oily DJ in the club. Rob Callaby moved effortlessly between his different aliases and made a very believable young girl, clutching her handbag for comfort as the events of the night unfolded.
After the interval, the scene changed to a trendy cocktail bar for Shakers. Written to be played out at a slightly less frenetic pace than Bouncers, this comedy allows for more pathos and character development. The four actresses excelled at moving the audience with their delivery: measured, unhurried, breathtaking. It was difficult to believe this was the second night of a four night run rather than a performance that has been touring for months: these four girls were completely in tune with one another.
Carol, the more mature, educated waitress longing to be a photographer, was played so naturally by Jane Webb that the script just seemed like normal conversation; superb, believable acting. Acid-tongued Mel (Suzanne Webb) kept up the facade until just at the end when her soliloquy held the audience spell-bound. Suzanne and Jane, I have to say, made remarkably good men, sitting astride the bar-stools, braying and guffawing very reminiscent of French and Saunders.
Amanda Fisher was a warm, engaging Nicky, about to embark on a career as a dancer on a rather dubious-sounding cruise ship. She also played the young Liverpudlian checkout girl, queuing up to try clothes on in Top Shop for her 21st birthday party celebrations, with great humour and wit.
I was convinced at one point that Gemma Page’s infectious laugh as she played Adele, the young mum struggling with the demands of motherhood and work, was unintentional; so realistic was the giggling. Gemma played all her characters with bucketfuls of energy, the lighter touch worked well alongside the other characters.
Congratulations to the two directors, Nick Fletcher and Jules Jones, for shaping these actors so well to provide a very entertaining evening. Jules in particular is to be commended for her work with the Shakers’ girls, some of whom have had little experience working in the theatre: an absolute triumph!
The show continues until Saturday 23 October, 7.30pm at the South Holland Centre, Spalding. Tickets are £9.50, available from the Box Office 01775 764777 or visit http://www.southhollandcentre.co.uk/