Shakers

Reviewed at Headgate Theatre, Colchester, by guest reviewer with Theatre Life, Chris Brown.

This play, similar in concept to Bouncers also by John Godber, is presented by four actresses who take the roles of four waitresses, each under pressure in different ways.  It describes a typical night for them working at a bar called Shakers in 1985. The actresses play all the characters in the bar, including the clientele the four waitresses have to deal with.
The four waitresses were introduced as Adele, Carol, Mel and Nicky and were ably played by Sarah Barton, Laura Bradley, Alison Hartley and Helen Meah respectively.
With a simple yet well-presented set, consisting a bar and 4 bar stools all the action took place with great effect.
Alison sporting initially a strong Scottish accent as Mel was adeptly able to jump through various different characters and accents, including a dash of German, giving us an insight into her skills as an actresses, she seems to particularly excel at the harder and more harsh characters despite proving she has a much lighter side when ‘out with the cashiers’.
Laura was decidedly the more thoughtful of the four not just in her interpretation of Carol, who does not want to be taken as an idiot, but in all her guises, she was incredibly believable and gave us a very honest performance.
Whilst she may be diminished in size, Helen was great at delivering the oversized characters and exploiting that to its fullest. Her general bright disposition was superbly contrasted against the octogenarian darts player or the dizzy birthday girl out to get Andy King!
Two particular scenarios during the evening were especially enjoyable – the communal changing room where there were some great comic moments and the drunken toilets at the end.  Sarah Barton really came into her own in this – not over played as one could play a drunk but exactly as so many people are at that stage of the evening. She nailed it perfectly. In fact many of her portrayals throughout the evening were perfectly timed and delivered. The moving speech about her daughter and the lads out on the pull showing her versatility as a performer.
It was the combination of these four actresses together that not only complimented each other but gave us all characters we could relate to.
If you can’t get to see it at the Headgate Theatre tonight,then Shakers will be winging its way to the Brentwood Theatre on 5th & 6th July. Get a ticket!