Bouncers – Review – Ilkley Playhouse
By Laura Whiteley, May 2018
A blunt start set us up for a night of laughter and mayhem as four men stand on stage and introduce their characters. The typical “bouncer pose” becomes the defining stance for the four “bouncers” who are to narrate this wickedly funny, yet cleverly cutting piece of theatre.
From there, the four actors spring into comical dancing and antics, portraying female parts with almost pantomime-like style. Hilarious. The pace quickens and the dancing, actions and accents become more and more ridiculous as the show progresses.
Perfect timing and clear signs helps the audience follow the story easily as the performers quickly and skilfully shift from one character to the next; young, old, rough, posh, northern, southern – you name it, they could act it.
The acting style is filled with over-the-top physicality, combined with realism – it works magically together. One-minute guilty giggles fill the room and the next the audience are entranced by the raw emotion and gritty harshness displayed on the stage.
Swearing is apparent from the start, but unexpected themes become much more intense throughout. Subjects such as alcoholism, casual sex and homophobia are addressed in an obvious but suitably sensible way that shows the reality relating to these topics. I think it is the severe contrast between the side-splitting comedy and the quiet moments of reflection and stillness that make Bouncers so powerful. Timing is flawless.
If you’re a fan of eighties music then you’ll love the soundtrack. From start to end the eighties sounds fuel the energy and madness of the show and it’s brimming over with classics that will stick with you when you leave.
There are a few moments when I can’t stop myself from singing/chair-dancing along with the cast. Of course this only adds to the undeniable infectiousness of the whole piece. Even when there is a slight technical error with music the actors improvise around it so well that it almost feels like it is intentional. These are true performers who can do much more than wait for their next cue.
Atmosphere amongst the audience is incredibly relaxed, which made the whole show feel intimate and welcoming. There are a few moments of interaction and, by that point, we don’t need much encouragement to join in as we are already so comfortable. The show has that air of casual approach-ability that a lot of modern theatre seems to lack. Barriers between audience and actors are broken down as the show goes on – it’s wonderfully refreshing.
This is a hysterical, yet very real, performance displayed in a vibrant, varied and cheeky way. It leaves you thinking about the horrors that happen in nightclubs as well as smiling at the thought of the pure and utter ridiculousness of the whole piece. A remarkably risky, fun and unforgettable gem of a show.