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Review – Bouncers: a good show; gritty and funny

Right clockwise: Rowan Howard, Peter Condon, Campbell Lindsey and Chris Vaag.


By John Godber

Directed by David Paterson and Sherri Smith

HeartBeast Theatre

Spring Hill Reservoir

230 Wickham Terrace


Season: March 10-31. Running time: two hours including interval. Bookings:

It was going back in time for the opening night of HeartBeast Theatre’s production of John

Godber’s Bouncers. The play of course is set in

and outside a London night club

and so patrons were all stamped on the wrist when we entered the performance space! Ah for when we were young.

The play was first performed in 1977 but it has aged well and switched quite easily from London to Brisbane with some neatly edited text and a few local references. The Aussie accents were fine too.

It’s a good play; gritty and funny with an undercurrent of honesty, violence and drunks behaving badly; and it was engagingly put together by directors David Paterson and Sherri Smith plus a top flight cast of experienced actors. It is rude, crude with simulated sex and language, but it is also hilariously funny.

The show sees late night fun through the eyes of four night club doormen: the older and more experienced “Lucky” Eric (Peter Condon), the hyperactive Les (Campbell Lindsey), the not too bright Ralph (Rowan Howard) and the edgy Judd (Chris Vaag).

But that’s not all, for the four men play 20 roles between them including, with the aid of handbags to differentiate characters, Maureen, Rosie, Elaine and Susie, a bunch of happy-go-lucky girls out to celebrate a 21st birthday, and then lager louts Kev, Baz and friends who are also heading out for a big night on the town.

Imagine the fun when the lager louts start dancing with the girls!

These characters create a crazy laugh a minute show, but it drops into serious mode with Eric’s quartet of bittersweet monologues that give us a look behind the stone-faced bouncer into someone more human and bitter as his marriage breaks down and his wife becomes one of the night club crowd. He also gives us his insight to the many tragedies behind the boozy facades.

The small in the round (or square as the space is physically) stage, with chairs spaced within touching distance was well worked by the actors. There was no room for a set but with minimal props and lighting the night time scene was well created.

The cast, each member a completely different looking individual, switched seamlessly between characters and yet maintained their major ones beautifully.

Peter Condon was an excellent Eric. His face gave little away to his fellow bouncers, but we could see his careworn face as he continued to do a job he does not enjoy and yet is not game to admit he is too old and give it away.

Les, with his sideburns and slim frame earned all his laughs, while Ralph, always gleefully looking for someone to kick, was another facet to the four characters and I enjoyed Chris Vaag’s portrayal of the homicidal Judd, who was like the young bull, always trying to pick a fight with the ageing herd leader.

It is not a long play, which is probably a good thing considering all the physical comedy involved, but I had a ball watching impeccable acting and comic timing that made this production so enjoyable,

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