If John Godber’s long-running play tells us anything, it’s that nothing really has changed.
This hugely enjoyable production, highlighting the twilight world of four doormen, shows that the comedy written an extraordinary 36 years ago remains as relevant as ever.
Its timely opening on the same night that a Channel 4 documentary of the same name highlighted the work of real-life bouncers in Jesmond and Blyth, engaged a packed theatre from the start as the glowering dark-suited cast manned the auditorium doors before taking to the stage for a bit of stylised dancing.
Godber’s play might have done the rounds but for those, like me, who didn’t know what to expect, a surprise treat lay in store as the cast morph into various characters - including a gang of lager-swilling boys and gaggle of flirting girls (whose sparkly handbags are about the only props in the piece) - covering every aspect from the Big Friday Night Out, from its optimistic start (being pampered at the hairdressers, getting dressed to the nines) through the booze-fuelled nightclub mating games to the sober early hours reality as the world-weary bouncers sift through the debris of a night they’ve seen a million times before.
Acutely observant, sharply funny and often rude, it’s a familiar story that continues to be played out everywhere which, when you think about it, is actually a pretty depressing thought but here we just keep on laughing, as the talented cast - Adrian Hood, Matthew Ganley, David MacCreedy and Zach Lee - continually switch roles and voices, from Hood’s towering doorman’s turn as the awkward big lass to Ganley’s spot-on DJ-ing at a 21st birthday night, while Lee is the lightweight teenager who can’t hold her shots and MacCreedy has his spotlight moments with three insightful speeches that reveal the affecting personal story behind the stern man in the suit.
Modern references - popular music and makes of aftershave - have been added and only occasionally does the original dialogue jar a little, reminding us of the age of the play, such as in the video recorder moment which heralds a hilarious blue movie scene which sees the rewind button accidentally pressed.
Directed by Gareth Tudor Price, who recently directed the Lindisfarne Gospels commission A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Durham and is a long-term collaborator with Godber, this play makes for a great night out.
Grab a ticket if you can for its last showing on Saturday - especially if you were on a Big Friday Night Out.