Intriguing title and no idea what to expect. I’m ever ready for a surprise at NWTAC so, assuming it’s a new one on you too, I’ll set the scene.
Location: A night-club in a town centre: Could be anywhere so for us, it’s Manchester. Shakers Cocktail Bar.
Era: Late 1970’s: But, as NWTAC like to put their own slant on things, some references are more recent.
Main characters: Four night-club bouncers. Four cocktail barmaids. Four lads on the lash. Four girls up for a night out.
Event: One night out on the town and the preparations leading up to it.
Maybe you’re thinking “sounds pretty straight forward”. It’s actually two plays merged together into one and the 16 plus characters are played by just 8 actors.
So, now you could be thinking “sounds pretty complicated”. Nope, just very clever and very, very funny.
As we filter in from the bar area we’re involved in the show before it even starts. Smart suited young men greet us and show us to our seats before we realise they’re actually the bouncers in the show. They inform us the performance is about to begin.
“Any filming or flash photography is not allowed and mobile phones must be turned off…”. Then sternly add “…or there’ll be trouble.”
I fumble for mine, just to check, even though I know it’s off! From there we’re transported to their ‘world’; standing in a freezing club doorway waiting for the pubs to close and the nightclub client’s to roll up, in whatever state they’re in.
Scene Two is a hairdressing salon but is this where we’re introduced to the girls? Ah no. The bouncers do a character flip and play a group of girls getting ready for a night out. Giddily gabbing away, deciding what hairstyle’s best or what colour nail varnish they want amid getting all the gossip and bitching about this or that.
It’s a while before the real girls, aka cocktail shakers, take to the stage and they have a similar start. Getting ready for another night behind the bar, wiping down tables and discussing the new brazen uniform they’ve be told to wear. Before long they too do a character flip and jump scene to a fashion shop changing room. The banter has us in stitches.
These role changes are executed so well. Each character is totally believable, the script is brilliant and it’s fascinating to watch.
I’m a Manchester lass. I went to those night-clubs and bars and hairdressers and dress shops in the 1970’s. I remember the changing rooms in Chelsea Girl and the freezing mile long taxi queue at 3am in Piccadilly. God, feet like blocks of ice. I was there! And, going off their reaction, so were most of my fellow audience.
We loved every minute of this play. Thank you Bouncers: Jonny Molyneux, Gareth Maudsley, Solomon Asante-Owusu and Owen Maudsley for your wit and timing. Thank you Shakers Toyin Lawal, Jade Hamer, Kate Bannister and Melissa Grimes for your humour and sass. You were thoroughly entertaining and a joy to watch.
The line-up for Saturday’s performance was slightly different but I hear they stormed it too.
NWTAC’s theatre is on Lightbowne Road, Moston and their next project is Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream. Click here for all the details and how to book your seats.