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Shakers

Carol – Ruth Jarvis
Mel – Emma Berryman
Adele – Lauren Verrier
Nicky – Hannah Williams

 

Coming new to Shakers (as I did to Bouncers before it), I found in each play the same format, which works so well, particularly in the intimate setting of the BLT Bar.  Whilst the basic premise is the same – men and women telling their personal stories whilst having to cope with the punters hell bent on enjoying themselves after work – the failures, dreams and hopes of the four girls are unique to them.  I found both plays absorbing, funny and tragic in equal measure and eminently watchable.

 

I guess John Godber had his wife to thank for the feminine angle in this slice (sorry!) of life in a cocktail bar.  The dialogue beautifully captures the manic panic involved in serving drinks and food to often obnoxious punters, whilst remaining outwardly calm and smiling.  It’s not only the brilliant dialogue that reflects this microcosm of the drinking society, but the movement of the girls between the bar, each other and the diners is effortless and so effective.

 

Whilst each of the four girls has her own life and story to tell, I think this is very much an ensemble piece.  Ruth Jarvis, Lauren Verrier, Hannah Williams and Emma Berryman made me feel that they were truly together in this drinking den and knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses. 

 

As Carol, the most educated of the four, whose ambition to become a photographer seemed so hard to fulfil, Ruth Jarvis was totally convincing.  Her tale to the audience was heartfelt and beautifully paced.  You felt for her disappointment, but she did remain optimistic as to the future.

 

Lauren Verrier’s Adele, the girl who thought she’d found love and in reality found herself as a single mother, juggling bringing up her daughter and having to take this far from ideal job, brought out the problems in this, not unusual situation, with great sincerity.  Like Carol, she wanted a better job for herself and to help her daughter and she was determined to find it.

 

Nicky, played with great vivacity by Hannah Williams, did manage to find the job she wanted – as a ? “dancer” on a cruise ship and we all wished her well.

It was great to see Emma Berryman onstage again and she makes the most of the sad, loud, brash Mel, who seems to be forever engaged, but never the bride. 

 

All four actors were totally focussed and sincere in their roles, though I felt they tried a little too hard when portraying the various punters they had to serve.  In such an intimate setting as the Bar, less can be more.  That said, these were professional performances.

 

Director Wayne, you’ve done it again!  This time with the help of Pauline and Jane!  Direction was spot on, slick, professional, positive.  Your sound design was excellent, as was the lighting by Dave Jones and Dave Armour.  Great to see the cast involved in choosing costumes.  They worked well, because they let the cracking dialogue speak for itself.  Thanks should also go to the cast and the crew of Phil Cairns, Jane Lobb, Dave Jones and Tony Jenner for stage and set construction.  They enabled the girls to strut their stuff and I thank you all for a great night out.  Cheers!!

 

Nikki Packham

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