Night on the town worth queuing for

PUBLISHED: 15:49 28 October 2009 | UPDATED: 17:14 16 August 2010

AT first I thought I d come to the wrong place - arriving at Eynsford Village Hall, I was greeted by a big sign proclaiming Mr Cinders ,

AT first I thought I'd come to the wrong place - arriving at Eynsford Village Hall, I was greeted by a big sign proclaiming 'Mr Cinders', writes Mark Campbell.

Was this a panto? If so, where was John Godber's Bouncers?

It turned out that the folk at the Riverside Players had craftily transformed the entrance of their theatre into the fictitious northern club that features so prominently in Godber's comic play.

Apparently I'd just missed the bouncers on the door too. But come curtain up there they were checking tickets, chatting up the ladies and poking fun at the chaps. "Have you come for the 70s Night, sir?" asked one, glancing at my attire.

The cheek of it.

Bouncers presents a series of funny - and some not so funny - vignettes revolving around a night out on the tiles for the lads and lasses of an unnamed northern town.

According to the author, it's based on a Polynesian nightclub in Pontefract. But it might as well be set anywhere.

Bexleyheath, Welling, Dartford...all likely suspects.

Richard Banks played 'Lucky' Eric, the ringleader of the quartet and a man whose view of the city and its inhabitants has been clouded over the years by scenes of violence and exploitation of woman.

His heartfelt monologues were memorably emotional affairs, uncomfortable to listen to but beautifully delivered.

Jason Down was the smooth womaniser Judd, all brawn and no brains but with a dangerous twinkle in his eyes, while Rory Gordon as Ralph was the cheeky young lad who seems scarcely older than the punters.

As the barely-repressed homosexual Les ("My close friend happens to be gay"), Paul Friett was a pleasure to watch, his exquisitely played character both funny and sweet without falling into cliché.

The four actors - who never left the stage - played a variety of different characters, without recourse to costume changes.

It was a great moment when they first transformed themselves into handbag-clutching girls in a hairdressers.

And their interpretation of a speeded-up porn film - in reverse, no less - was simply hilarious.

Directed with enormous energy and precision by director Kelly White, this was a small-scale tour-de-force.

Although a piece born in the pre-AIDS era of 1980, Godber's simple, fragmentary narrative, dealing with universal themes of hedonism, sex, love and loss, makes Bouncers a timeless piece of drama.

The next production by the Riverside Players will be Sleeping Beauty from 15 January 2010. Tickets: 01322 861001.

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