Theatre review: Bouncers at the Belltable

The cast of Bouncers by Orchard Theatre
Company, Limerick. Picture: Eva Birdthistle.
I went to see the play, Bouncers, by Orchard Theatre Companyin the Belltable Arts Centre Thursday night (February 2). It was great to see thevenue bustling and the auditorium nearly full, especially for a local company.
Bouncers, by John Godber, isa parody of the nightclub scene with the four doormen playing over 20 partsillustrating the various characters out for a good night at Tropics—the hottestspot in town. These range from the tetchy bouncers to group of girlscelebrating a 21st to a bunch of teenage lads aiming to score. Butwill it be a good night for all?
It’s a brilliant premise fora play and there are plenty of observations about the human condition. The 70minute piece was fast-paced, morphing constantly from one group to another punctuated by interludes like a speech by philosophical bouncer, Lucky Eric, aself referential cry of “social comment!” or a spiel by the cheesy DJ.
The physical comedy was really well choreographed andexecuted. Whether fighting or dancing, the cast tackled it with energy. Thatmomentum is an essential part of Bouncers. Theensemble cast—Stefan Barry, David Collins, Zeb Moore and Pius McGrath—had achallenging task. They approached it with enthusiasm and an admirable shamelessness! The best moments wereprobably when they were playing the giggling young women. You can’t help butlaugh at men in suits portraying tipsy women, provocatively dancing aroundhandbags. The set was simple buteffective, beer barrels doubling up as chairs, bar counters and a DJ booth. Theprops were minimal, like handbags for the ‘ladies’. The lighting design wasvery good, seamlessly creating scenes and settings. There were undoubtedly touches of brilliance.
The actors did their best butthe performance was uneven in parts. The dynamic between the bouncers wasn’t convincing;they’re joking one minute and fighting the next. I felt the script didn’t liveup to the promised hilarity. I didn’t like the glib spoken characterdescriptions, for example, and the rap at the start was awful.  All the characters were stereotyped vignettesand obnoxious ones at that. There wasn’t one redeeming quality among the hardmen, lager louts and ditzy female characters. The humour was fairly low browand obvious, aimed at easy targets. I’m not a prude nor do I have an issue withswearing. But there are only so many smutty jokes and crass observations aboutsex or bodily functions even I can take. On the whole, I found the playmildly amusing with a few laugh out loud moments.
As for social commentary,it’s all been said! We all know nightclubs are full of pissed up people. Sometimes,they make fools of themselves. Without the benefit of beer goggles, bouncers arefully aware and often don’t like what they see. They have to put up witheverything thrown at them while hoping it’ll be abuse and not a glass. Nothingnew there. The attempt to inspire empathy with references to Eric’s maritalbreakdown was too vague to make an impact. The play was first performed in England in the eighties and the play was advertised as beinga “nineties remix”. I didn’t see anything to suggest that with all the Whamsongs and talk about perms but then again, I don’t think it matters too much.
Now, before you get the pitchforks out…Although it was abit too Roy‘Chubby’ Brown-stylefor me, the majority of the audience seemed to be laughing throughout. Bouncers was entertaining in parts but definitely not a play forthe easily offended.
The show is moving on to other venues shortly.
CamdenPalace, Feb 9 and 10at 8pm. 
Bookings 086-1086767.Tickets €15 and €12 conc.

Cork Arts Theatre, Carroll’sQuay. Feb 19 at 8pm.
Bookings 021-4505624. Tickets€15 and €12 conc. 


Chapel on the Hill,Kilorglin, Feb 23 and 24 at 8pm.
Bookings 086-1086767. Tickets €10.