BATS Theatre, Wellington

13/03/2008 - 29/03/2008

Production Details

Four Men, One Night, Twenty Four Characters, One Job  . . . Bouncers 

As the mighty guardians of our nightclubs Bouncers sometimes get a little bored of their job – their only joy is playing with the hopefuls attempting to get into their bar.  Bouncers’ shows clients and Bouncers alike trying to deceive everyone; especially themselves.

Bouncers is set in a typical Wellington nightclub where the not so typical Bouncers depict the clientele’s eclectic, odd, drunken and down right weird behaviour.  Performed by four actors, the multiple roles are demanding, varying from Lager-Lout to Nightclub Tart, Manager to DJ, Drunken Hopeful to Drunken Brawler.

Bouncers is a contemporary, bawdy, fast paced, funny look at the night life of any big city, as told by the big men who protect the streets.

Clarity Productions
13-29 March, 6.30pm
BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce
Bookings: 802 4175 or
Cost: $16/13/10

Sobering Bouncers mixes laughter with tears

Review by Lynn Freeman 19th Mar 2008

This production has updated John Godber’s script, setting it in a Wellington nightclub.  The elements are the same, four actors play not only bouncers but young guys and girls enjoying (or not) a night in the town, and other assorted and sordid characters. 

There are sobering moments between the out and out comedy, notably the pack rape of a drunken girl watched on by one of the bouncers who found himself aroused. 

These [New Zealand College of Performing Arts (Porirua)]* trained performers, Charles Masina, Robet Bullen, Jack Wi-Neera and Shaun Martin, all have the chance to shine in this work, it’s an actor’s dream.  Performance wise there’s lot of good stuff in here.

The problem though is projection – much of the text is lost, mumbled or drowned out by music and stamping.  It’s something director Richard Finn should have picked up on and in such a small venue there really is no excuse.

*[In print the review says "Toi Whakaari trained" but that is incorrect.] 


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Gets a little lost

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 19th Mar 2008

Wherever you are in the world, wrote Dominic Dromgoole, and there are more than ten male actors, it’s a fair bet that two of them will have been in a production of Bouncers, a four-hander by the third most produced playwright in Britain after Shakespeare and Ayckbourn.

Charles Masina, Robert Bullen, Zack Wi-Neera, and Shaun Martin can now be added to Dromgoole’s dodgy statistics. This hard-working quartet are appearing in Richard Finn’s production that for the first time that I am aware of takes the four East Yorkshire bouncers out of tuxedos and dresses them in black leather jackets and places them across the road in Courtenay Place.

This works well enough but Godber’s highly charged and often very funny theatrical collage of working class life at the bottom of the heap in Thatcher’s England somehow loses its sting in the transition.

It is further blunted by the four actors who play 24 characters opting for easy camp humour, particularly when playing the young women eager for a good night out, rather then the heightened gritty reality and individuality that Godber provides. 

They didn’t help themselves by some poor vocal projection which was not assisted by a loud musical backing to many of the scenes. Also if everything is mimed in the production then spitting can be mimed too.


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Poor show

Review by John Smythe 15th Mar 2008

This Clarity Productions staging of John Godber’s Bouncers, judiciously relocated from northern England in the early 1980s to here and now, would not inspire anyone to think it deserved a nation-wide tour. Yet twenty-plus years ago that’s exactly what happened with William Walker’s smash hit Centrepoint production of Bouncers.

Of course back in 1985, four male actors playing 24 characters, including women, was innovative. Now that’s not surprising. In 2004, for example – and in many on-tour seasons since – Nigel Collins and Toby Leach played 55 characters in Wheeler’s Luck.

Even so, the insight Bouncers offers into the seamier side of city nightlife should resonate strongly here and now, given it includes at its heart (if that’s the word), an expose of the teenage binge-drinking mentality that has made recent headlines as weekend fare in Courtenay Place (just a stone’s throw from BATS, where this production plays).

Charles Masina (Luck Eric), Robert Bullen (Ralph), Zack Wi-Neerra (Les) and Shaun Martin (Judd) all make credible Courtenay Place bouncers and their instant transitions into other characters are impressive. But all their characters lack depth and in the end it becomes very hard to follow "who’s up who and whose not paying", as the saying goes. It’s even harder to care.

Apart from the superficial treatment the characters get, voice protection and the articulation of lines is consistently poor, especially when music and other sounds of the night are overlaid. Indeed this was the main complaint heard from everyone I spoke to afterwards, with many expressing amazement that the actors had either graduated from, or were in their 3rd year at, the New Zealand College of Performing Arts in Porirua, headed by their director Richard Finn.

Lucky Eric’s monologue speeches are especially undermined by poor vocal skills, robbing the play of a key dimension. It’s not that the actors are bad, they all display important qualities from time to time … It’s just that they and their director have failed to find the rhythm, flow, pacing and dynamics required to transport us into this esoteric yet close-to-home world.

When Bouncers ends we should feel we have met and got to know quite well Lucky Eric, Ralph, Les and Judd; Maureen, Rosie, Elaine and Suzie; their four wannabe-cool male counterparts … at least. We should recognise and feel something for each of them, and have a response to the sad futility of the social rituals they are trapped in.


We don’t. Poor show.  



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