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Review: Bouncers at the MAC Belfast

Bouncers at the MAC
Jane Hardy

THE MAC has transformed its main stage into the Luminaire Club with serious ooh la la for Big Telly's production of Bouncers by John Godber. This 1983 vehicle, a kind of marvellously disjointed disco night here reinvented in Northern Ireland, works a treat. It's clever, funny, and as you would expect with John Godber, political too.

Set to an 80s soundtrack, ranging from The Cure to Blondie, the show introduces us to the eponymous Mr Cinders Club men. Les (Ciaran Nolan), Ralph (Chris Robinson), Lucky Eric (Marty Maguire) and frankly sinister Judd (Conor Grimes) spend their lives observing everybody else's. What they see is very revealing.

There are passages of sublime humour from the man who wrote Up'n'Under. There is the build-up to Rosie's twenty-first, for example, with the wisdom dispensed with much hairspray at the salon. All four actors turn in superb performances as both the men and the women, fulfilling Godber's idea they should resemble four stand-ups. The scene where Rosie (Chris Robinson, all sad shoulders and batting eyelashes) realises she's lost her man is beyond hilarious. Get your LPs back, advise the girls. She responds by saying she's been with this guy for "nearly two days". The bathos here is world class.

Other notable comedy routines include the scene in the urinal, a piece of outstanding physical comedy, and the scene where two of the guys watch a blue movie. Seeing Knobby the lanky Swedish postman deliver the post to the quivering female in the shower brought the house down.

Yet in among the laughs, and cartoon glimpses of life on the dole and the dance floor, there is a serious question being asked.

It's about class and the determinism of our society. Lucky Eric, played by Mr Maguire with real finesse, gets four monologues. His fellow bouncers announce all his big moments, playing with the notion of the fourth disco wall.

After we hear about his woman problems, we get some tenderness as Eric views the plight of young girls routinely disrespected by men, then the big question that is, why it has to be like this. Lucky Eric asks us to consider the plight of the working class "with no options left", drinking and dancing its way to oblivion in a society that maybe doesn't care.

But is isn't all heavy. There is poetry here, there is fun, there are laughs, there's the upbeat music and there's some brilliant choreography. The men dance their socks off. Enjoy.

Bouncers runs at the MAC (themaclive.com) until April 20.

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