by John Godber
Directed by Bob Eaton
19th July - 17th August 2013
Back to the future
It's 1985 again, and what a night of 'in your face' theatre this turns
out to be as John Godber's well travelled play turns up at the city's
perfect venue for his hilarious comedy.
The atmosphere was crackling from the off as the cast mingled with the
crowd, shaking hands and exchanging small talk, in their immaculately
turned out tuxedos and bow-ties, courtesy of Moss Bros. Over the loudspeakers
a stern warning to turn off mobile phones; a nice touch this, as no-one
had them in those days.
The cast of four, no strangers to the stage in Liverpool, were not about
to disappoint. As the lights went up on a minimalist stage, four beer
barrels backed by a neon sign, Director Bob Eaton's action got under way
with them musing on the rewards of life as gatekeepers to the post pub
mayhem of the infamous, much loved and now gone, Grafton Rooms.
Lucky Eric (Paul Broughton), is the thinker and philosopher of the quartet
while Judd (Michael Starke) is an archetypal scouse scally. Of the younger
two, Les (Danny O'Brien), is more aggressive and the possessor of a short
fuse of a temper, while Ralph (Mark Womack),is more rounded and emotionally
sympathetic to some of the sexual and behavioral tendencies escaping societal
taboo thirty years ago.
There was much more to do though than stand out in the cold or rain until
the early hours. Whether on the door or beyond it the actors proceded
to roll off a whole night's worth of scenarios that epitomised what it
was like to go 'clubbing' in those halcyon days The audience loved it.
From the early night beer guzzle in the pub to the brazen attempt to look
sober crossing the rubicon into the inner sanctum; or the need to get
back out unscathed, or with new company if you "tapped off";
that was what it was all about. For the less lucky it was the hot dog
man, depleted pockets or the camararderie antics of the taxi ride home.
The touch of genius was that the actors also tapped into the girls' experiences
with the addition of one added prop. Whether it was dancing around the
eponymous handbags on the floor in their new Chelsea Girl dresses, the
bitchy asides, or discussing the shock loss of a boyfriend, 'she knew
I'd been going out with him for two days!' or the inevitable follow up
tears and runny mascara, 'my face looks like a coal miner's back', or
the ubiquitous chicken-in-the-basket moment it was brilliant. then, when
back as the 'the boys'and comparing their manhood in the toilet as the
prelude to the predatory last dance 'I don't fancy your's' routine, it
was all there.
It's because most of us have been there and lived out similar moments
that this play is such a success. In remembering the awkward dance movements',
less than perfect singing, the swearing and sometimes unpolitically correct
dialogue and drunkenness, the audience laughed at itself and loved it.
A fabulous night out of memories for most and for the sizable younger
contingent present enough to warn that it might not always work out as
you would like.
The play runs until 17th August. Don't miss out.