Sweet dreams are made of this…

Bouncers, Big Telly Theatre

MAC Belfast

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The Luminaire Club is back at the MAC, where the theatre is transformed into a nightclub complete with tables and waiter service. And, of course, Bouncers, provided for the occasion by Big Telly.

Director Zoe Seaton has given John Godber’s comedy a shakedown and relocated it to a club in Belfast in the 80s, where bouncers Jud, Les, Ralph and Lucky Eric check out their moves while they wait for the doors to open.

It’s terrifically cast: Conor Grimes is Jud – bitter and angry, whose work gives him the chance to take out his rage on any punter who steps out of line. Ciaran Nolan is Les – the joker in the pack, who’s hoping to pull any leftover ladies at the end of the night. Chris Robinson’s Ralph is the slightly cooler, slightly quieter one. And Marty Maguire is Lucky Eric, the daddy of the group, who’s seen it all, heard it all before.

The four actors switch roles to play a group of girls getting ready for their night out, and then four young men spritzing the Lynx and downing pints before they hit the dance floor. They recreate that tingle of anticipation before a night out, when anything could happen.

This fast and funny show really comes alight with Garth McConaghie’s sharp, clever 80s soundtrack, which slots seamlessly into the script; and Sarah Johnston’s choreography which keeps the cast on their toes. They strut and swerve from quickfire gags to snarling obscenities in the blink of an eye, showing a hint of the reality underneath their faux civility.

As the evening progresses, that tingle becomes a blur of drink and dances. All human life is here: the Bouncers become posh punks and giddy, silly wee girls wanting to be women; bunches of blokes with their sexist banter. The room is full of hopes for a shag and dreams of romance. There’s dirty dancing and a dirty film, too.

Only Lucky Eric sees the innocence behind the leers and tears, described in a series of poignant monologues scattered throughout the evening, Eric looks beyond the beery breath and smeared mascara to the humanity underneath. Maguire – who has always been able to balance cheeky charm with a hint of menace – delivers this paean to those happy to splash out on a night of make-believe with affection and conviction. 

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Author: thedeadhead

Some thoughts and views on theatrical happenings around Northern Ireland from Grania McFadden

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