Review by Craig Idlebrook
(Cambridge) At times, beautiful, sassy and hypnotic, at times purposely pointless, crass and heartbreaking, the play Bouncers hits all the right notes to catch the highs and lows of a night of clubbing. If you were an anthropologist and wanted to study the alcohol-fueled mating rituals of the young, you wouldn’t find a more accurate snapshot than these 1.5 hours of traffic playing at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge.
Set in the confines of a club for the English working-class, the cast of four sharp-dressed men take on all the players of what appears to be a sprawling epic tragicomedy, if only in the minds of the beer-guzzling masses within. The stories are simple and familiar: a pack of guys and a pack of girls converging on a club, each looking to disappear into euphoria and find a friend. The bouncers are the observers and policemen, who stay nominally above the hormone-filled fray, but also see their own hearts beating and breaking along with the gyrating crowd.
John Godber’s script is close to flawless because it takes itself seriously and lets it hair down in all the right places. A Shakespeare-like prologue and epilogue blend effortlessly into inane rap rhymes, group dance numbers and drunken soccer chants. Thanks to Godber’s precise but irreverent focus, we can laugh at, laugh with and cry with every single character we meet. The production also benefits greatly from the finest overall cast I’ve seen in Boston all year. On stage for every second of the play, each of the four actors seamlessly and believably tackles multiple characters. They play broad, bordering on stereotype, but the characters they create are no broader than the folks who shimmy up to the bars in Boston every Friday and Saturday night. What amazes is that the actors are able to experience no lag time between the transitions, a pitfall that often derails multi-character casting. Each actor is able to jump in and inhabit a new character with frenetic speed so the beat of the scene never drops. It’s hard to single out any of the actors for special accolades, since they are all so strong in this play, but there is something hypnotic for me about watching Seyi Ayorinde, a relative newcomer to acting, who is so watchable that you feel he could make reading the Congressional Record interesting.
Not only does this play perfectly capture, if in hyperbole, what it was like for me to stumble out into the streets after a night of clubbing, (ears buzzing, pockets empty, a smile on my face), but my young daughter will be able to point to this play in the future for the reason why she will never, ever be able to stay out past 10 until she’s 35.