Bouncers - Adjudication

Last Post: Wednesday 9th March 2022

The plotting of this production was excellent and Carolanne ensured that the whole stage was utilised throughout the evening. From the initial entrance of the actors as they took the stage we were physically drawn in to the sometimes funny, often poignant and always disconcerting world of the Bouncer. The evening began with the Bouncers mingling with the audience and this was repeated towards the end of the interval. This was a nice touch from Carolanne, although I wasn’t privy to what the actors were actually doing or saying. I think I already had my notepad out so maybe they were avoiding me! Stage arrangements were well judged throughout and Carolanne had a real sense of how to position the groupings so that the audience not only got a great view of the action but also understood the situation at any given time – whether it was the Bouncers’ straight line on the door, the arrangement of the girls dancing in the club, the hairdresser chairs or the super co-ordination of the taxi using the stools. The movement of the production was very well organised. Every area of the stage was used and the actors knew exactly what they were doing and where they were going at all times. This resulted in really slick scenes. Despite the small performance area the movement was continuous with the actors moving around each other skilfully. The Bouncers themselves were given a good variety of positioning on stage, from standing in a single row to overlapping rows to a Bohemian Rhapsody style diamond, there were numerous combinations of position used to keep the stage picture fresh and interesting for the audience. Carolanne’s interpretation of the text worked well so that she and her cast were always creating real moments that were accessible to the audience. There was so much going on in this play that the audience dared not take their eyes off the stage and there were many visual moments that the audience recognised and audibly acknowledged such as dancing round the handbags, the line up in the toilets and the crush in the pub. Not only were the stage pictures consistently good throughout this production, the transitions between one scene and another were slick and polished. There were many simple changes of scene and the cast were exceptionally well rehearsed to make the transitions quick and smooth. I am very fond of John Godber’s quote “You go to the theatre and the opening will set out the rules for the game of theatre, these are the rules of the game.” It is so true that at the start of the evening you can train the audience to accept the genre and devices that you are going to present them with. This is exactly what Carolanne did with the rendition of the Bouncer’s rap. It had to be confident and bold to convince the audience that this production was going to be something different but enjoyable at the same time. We were not about to see a West End musical but a reflection of real people on a night out. The simple but effective choreography for the initial rap did exactly what was required for the introduction. The physicality in this production was a key element in its success. Throughout the evening the Bouncers maintained a degree of dignity with their amusingly clichéd stance of hands crossed in front of body. But to complement this each bouncer had their own individual stance, a change of attitude and their own particular voice. As we started to know more about characters we learned who they were from their physical performances; Eric’s press ups, Ralph’s flirting, Judd’s aggression and Les with his cigarette and inhaler were all hints to who they were and what was to come. With so many musical pieces there had to be some great choreography and I thought Carolanne judged this element of the production really well. Pushing and shoving in the pub was very well achieved. I have already mentioned the rap but there were so many other occasions when the choreography worked very well. The screaming girls dancing to Shalamar may not have been choreographed but the timing of simultaneously putting the handbags down on the floor worked beautifully. I loved the way the actors all took the Beyonce choreography so seriously. They weren’t dancing like Beyonce, they looked as though they believed they were Beyonce and this was projected perfectly to the audience. The Spice Girls routine was excellent – bright, energetic and the actors were so committed to their roles in this scene. Their singing and dancing might have been slightly flawed (pretty much like the Spice Girls themselves) but the point of this scene was to regenerate the atmosphere and reconnect with the audience and all four actors gave this performance 100% commitment, energy and enthusiasm to do just that. Just a couple more physical elements that deserve a mention. Firstly, the scene in the toilets with the fingers poking through the fists was classic schoolboy humour and a real audience pleaser. One of my favourite moments in the production was the slow motion fight. With its controlled pace, great moves, moody lighting and pounding soundtrack it was a terrific blend of great direction, concentrated performing and technical support. Well done to everyone for the super physicality in this play. Carolanne and her cast had worked really hard on the pace of this production. It could have been quite a disjointed piece but the scenes flowed naturally with each member of the cast contributing to the flow and progression of the play. The pace of the dialogue was excellent and Carolanne embraced the script’s different styles of dialogue really well to express the mood of each scene. As already mentioned, the rap at the start of the play was well timed and allowed the audience to get a feel for the production as well as allowing the actors to interact with one another and the audience whilst drawing us into the theatrical world. The script also allows the director plenty of creativity and this production was a blend of direct narrative, either to each other or occasionally to the audience, monologue, character role play and dance – and the cast were talented enough to cope with all of the challenges Carolanne presented them with. The whole cast had a good grip on their lines and they were sharp on their cues, coming in with their dialogue at a good pace. This was particularly impressive with regard to the difficult structure of some of the dialogue. The short punchy lines in the pub scene in Act One needed great pace, timing and precision from all four actors. This style of delivery can be very difficult to get right but Carolanne had clearly rehearsed her cast well to make sure that the dialogue was precise and the timing of the delivery was synchronised. I felt that Carolanne understood the playwright’s intention and passed on an understanding of this play and its characters to the performers who in turn conveyed it to the audience. This script provided the director with a basic framework and it was up to her to flesh it out by embracing a variety of styles and underlining the theatricality of the piece. Carolanne and her team managed to communicate the essential messages of the play; the despair of the clubbers as well as the bouncers themselves and the general futility of the nightclub existence as experienced by a variety of characters. I thought that Carolanne got the fine balance of comedy and pathos just right. She ensured that the comedy, whether verbal or physical, was well defined and she balanced this with the hard hitting tales of grim characters and events as well as the more sensitive moments. There was never too much time to dwell on the bleakness of some of the characters and events as the pace was fast moving and we were swept along to the next scene or song or dance. Indeed, some of the stories are so bleak that they need a good dash of humour to take the edge off them and avoid turning the play into a tragedy. The essential playing of multiple roles was dealt with skilfully. The stereotypes created in this play were undertaken without apology. From the shrieking female characters dancing round their handbags to the boys out on the pull with their 16 pints and the Hooray Henrys drinking champagne, we were presented with numerous stereotypical characters who were nonetheless well studied and expertly performed. As mentioned, the pace was excellent and this wasn’t just running the dialogue at full speed but knowing when to hold back and give the characters and audience a moment to reflect. The monologues by Lucky Eric were notable markers throughout the production and brought a cold sense of harsh reality in the midst of the fun and physicality. These monologues were addressed directly to the audience to contrast with many of the character scenes and I noted a poignant moment of silence before Eric’s 4th speech to settle the pace and mood of the stage which worked really well. I felt that Carolanne had a clear overall concept for this production. This play provides an interesting resource for fun theatrical experimentation but for the audience there has to be sense and focus. Carolanne’s direction certainly helped to develop the plot, the characters and ultimately the author’s intention. This production was full of animation and energy and fun but the script alone didn’t provide that and it can’t just happen on the night. An enormous amount of preparation, hard work, focus and concentration goes into creating such a production and we saw all of that here. In conclusion, I refer to Carolanne’s request in the programme where she asked the audience to use their imagination and enter into the spirit of the production. To be honest the direction and performances were so clear that the audience didn’t really have to work that hard. Congratulations to Carolanne for a job very well done. Conclusion In conclusion, I have to congratulate everyone who had a role in bringing this production to the stage. I have no doubt that Carolanne is a very proud director and that all your audiences went away very satisfied. Many thanks to you all for an extremely entertaining evening and I hope to be back at Rossendale soon. Carmel Bird

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