In this controlled assessment, I will be talking about Bouncers (2012). The play was written and directed by John Godber. The venue of the performance was in the Wycombe Swan, we saw it on Thursday 18th October 2012. This performance was a re-The seating arrangements of The Wycombe Swan The seating arrangements of The Wycombe Swan
write of the original play, with updated music and current themes and references. Bouncers’ was originally written in the late 70’s when Godber was only 22 years old. The performance was a comment on the nightlife in the North of England of that time. Also note that one character in all of his plays would be usually be based on himself, for example in the play, Lucky Eric in based on himself. The plot of the performance was about four bouncers, four lads and four girls, who all intertwine with each other at a night club called ‘Asylum’. The performance was heavily stylized, with heavy emphasis on physical theatre, multi rolling and caricatures. The performance also shows some Brechtian influences, where Godber tries to remove the imaginary ‘Fourth Wall’, this meant there was a great deal of audience interaction with the actors. The play also had a lot of dark comedy, with a few serious parts. I feel that the main message in the performance was how women in a clubbing society have changed in these modern times, the message is shown from a male point of view.
The theme wasn’t discussed with any of the characters other than the four bouncers, in particular Lucky Eric, who would focus on the subject in his monologues. I think Godber used the play to show that young girls are misguided by looking for sex, when they go out clubbing. When delivering this message, the characters would look at the audience and make gestures at them. Secondly I feel that there was another smaller message too, and that was how bouncers don’t get the credit they need and the certain drawbacks to the job. The stage was an end on/proscenium arch set up. There were two beer barrels, which were used as the props for some scenes, for example they were used as barber’s seats when in Babooshkaba’s Barbers.
There were two examples that helped me to understand where the scene was set. Firstly it was always dark when in the nightclub, with no light pointing towards the stage but lasers shining at the audience and light when not in the club i.e. the barbers. Secondly at the back of the stage there was a larger neon sign with the club’s name ‘Asylum’. This was always turned on whenever the characters were in the nightclub. The actors all used distinctive multi rolling techniques to distinguish their various characters. For example two of William Ikkley’s characters were Judd the bouncer, and Plain Elaine. For Judd he had his buttons done up (Like the other bouncers), with his chest protruding, and slightly dopey look to his face. For Plain Elaine, he had a neutral face, with no expressions; he also made her walk clumsily, by turning his feet inward, so she would be wobbly when walking. Finally he made her wear the handbag like a man would across the shoulder. Another example would be Ace Bhatti, two of his characters were Ralph and Sexy Suzie.
For Ralph, the only difference to the other bouncers was that he had a very neutral posture. You could easily tell when he was Sexy Suzie as he had his chest out to represent boobs and his bum out and his bag on the shoulder. The actors used a few movements and gestures to show they were women. Firstly their voices went high pitched and developed Northern accents. Secondly their hands were shoulder height, close to the body, but waving freely. Thirdly, one or two of them went “Klip klop, klip klop” as they were moving around the stage to represent the heels they were supposedly wearing. The actors communicated a variety of settings on the small stage, with no defining features or props. I think the use of the two barrels, in a number of ways was very effective, for example in the barbers they were used as seats. Because there were so few props, the actors used a lot of gestures.
For example in the hairdressers, when they were the girls, they had their legs crossed and their hands in the position of reading a newspaper. Another example would be when the lads were crowded together in the club. My first example of lighting and special FX, would be when they used colourful strobes and lasers when in the club. The harsh strobes would come into the audience, this makes them feel as if they’re actually in the night club with the characters. Also note how the lighting in the club was naturalistic. My second example would be when all the lights except the spot light was turned off during Eric’s speeches, the spotlight will help the audience to concentrate only on him, rather than the others, and this lighting was more symbolic, representing a more sombre mood. Music played when the characters were in the club, except when the bouncers were there. It’s also played when there was a fight especially Dubstep music. Music is also played during scene changes to represent different locations, this kept the rhythm of the mood flowing, because if there weren’t music, it would be awkward because it’s stopping and starting.
The purpose of Lucky Eric’s monologues was to show the darker side to the performance, and also so that the character can show his views on life and society. Also note how the comedy in the play contrasts heavily with the darkness and the seriousness of the monologues. Another purpose of the monologues, was to inform the audience on how nightlife has changed so much in these modern times. There was quite a strong relationship between Judd and Eric, when these two are talking/squabbling etc. The others are discounted, and are ignored. The significant difference is that Judd is not as smart or wise as Eric. Also Judd is always trying to fight Eric for his position; Leader of the group. They are best mates, but it is a love hate relationship, it reminds me a lot of a typical old married couple. Personally I did not feel the play educated me in any way on the issues of life and society as I was mainly concentrating on the comedic side to the story. But if there was one issue I was educated on, it would have been; you don’t need to have sex to have a good time at a club.
My overall feeling about the performance was that it was very entertaining, with some great jokes, I enjoyed it a lot. The reason why I enjoyed it was because of the jokes, they were very funny and appropriate for the play. I also enjoyed it because of the clever way the actors portrayed each of the characters differently. The only other performance I could compare it to was a play I saw before called Democracy, it was a political play, which wasn’t very interesting, the reason why it wasn’t very interesting was because the theme and topic was really relevant to me. Bouncers was a lot better as it was a comedy and personally I felt the actors were generally a lot better at portraying their actors.