``Bouncers'' by John Godbar and ``Shakers'' by John Godbar and Jane Thornton are two stylistically related one-act plays that concern the lives of working-class Britons who are trapped in dead-end jobs and live for the moment with little hope of bettering their future, or even understanding what the word future means.
``Shakers'' concerns the lives of four women who work as bartenders and waitresses at Shakers, a moderately hip though not too posh eatery. An extended series of vignettes follows the women Nikki, a would-be actress, Carol (Bridget Kelso), a college graduate who can't get her life together, Adele, a quiet girl who wants children, and Mel (McLean Bradshaw), a slutty girl who doesn't seem to want anything -- as they work, play, and live their lives.
``Bouncers'' tells a similar story. It concerns four men who work as bouncers at a disco where ``you gotta have a tie, you gotta have a suit, you gotta look cute, or you get the boot.'' Again, similar vignettes follow the four men as they work, fight, party, watch a great deal of porno movies, and interact with other disco habitues.
``Bouncers'' and ``Shakers'' are very British, very depressing, and occasionally very funny plays. ``Shakers'' is the superior piece due to the fact that the main characters are much better differentiated. While the main characters in ``Bouncers'' all come off as boozy roughnecks, the characters in ``Shakers'' are much more sympathetic, especially Nikki, the would-be actress who, for her first acting audition, performs a self-written monologue about her grandmother having a stroke. While both plays are overlong and rely too often on over-broad secondary characters, they are fairly compelling works, if not uplifting ones.
The production of these plays by the Curan Repertory Company was quite interesting. Performed in the claustrophobic Theatre 22 on what seemed to be a less-than-shoestring budget, the actors performed with great vigor and panache. While both plays were well-directed by Ken Terrell, ``Shakers'' came across as the crisper of the two. Standing out among the performers were Valerie Gilbert as Nikki and Danice Kowalczyk as Adele. The production of ``Bouncers'' was a bit more uneven. Although energetic, the ensemble work here was less polished, and some of the cast members had trouble with the lower-class British accents. Of the four actors, John Kern as Eric and Dale Langley as Les gave stronger performances. The lighting design by Donald Brill and Louise Dizon was very effective, especially considering the few instruments they had to work with. (Also featuring Jim Sandner and Joey DiGiadomenico.)
Copyright 1996 John Attanas
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