This was my first trip over to Hull Truck Theatre and I'm already searching the online brochure making plans for my next. Their mission to promote diversity in their work is evident from promotional media online and around the theatre, it's exciting to see so much promising new theatre. Inside Hull Truck Theatre staff and ushers are the perfect example of hospitable northerners, I was actually filled with a clandestine bubble of glee when my request for an espresso macchiato at the bar was denied with a clipped northern 'no' and I was presented with a shot of coffee in a mug.
While waiting to go in to see 'Bouncers' the foyer filled with persons who themselves could have been from a Godber production, I found myself scanning the crowd every so often just in case the action had already begun, would the actors appear amongst the theatre goers? This didn't occur in the foyer but as we took our seats in 'The Heron' theatre, then the actors as intimidating security guards prowled amongst us, taking measure of the rabble in their midst.
I was unaware this was going to be an updated version of the well known play, contemporary music and a revamped script brought an exciting vigour to the production. From the opening rap it was evident we were in for a roller coaster of entertainment. Lynette Pickering's direction of movement was superb, the actors balanced the space, seamlessly created different scenes and with the smallest of movements (for example referencing a modern phenomenon such as 'the floss') had the audience laughing out loud.
The cast of four were enjoyable to watch, a believable squad of bouncers, who metamorphosed into different characters throughout the play. Their ability to play testosterone filled lads one minute and then glide into an overly confident young women the next had the audience laughing to begin with, but we were soon gripped at the power of the actors presenting the harrowing realism of today's modern idea of a standard night out from all sides of the night club's barriers.
Though the actors were a strong ensemble and complimented each others characters, there were two stand out performances, Peter McMillan and Frazer Hammill. Perhaps because of their maturity their bouncer portrayals were the most believable, their ability to clock the audience and deliver a knowing look or one-liner oozed a likeable confidence.
Frazer Hammill's monologues marked the progression of the story, the sheer torrent of compassion his character Lucky Eric had for young women existing in today's hopeless society, conditioned to live for an unappealing weekend of drunken antics had the audience stunned into silence each time he came forward. Heartbreaking, but an exemplary performance of a voice with the power to move an entire audience.
John Godber OBE has really captured a modern day truth about character in 'Bouncers', a play filled with beguiling laughs and hard to look at realism. I hope as many people as possible see this wonderful production.
Reviewer - Kerry Ely