site search by freefind advanced

 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

New Era - Shakers

12th to 22nd March 2003

This is the Newbury Weekly News review.

The admirable band of sisters

New Era Players: Shakers, from Monday, March 17 to Saturday, March 22

John Godber and Jane Thornton's Shakers is the companion piece to the well-known Bouncers. Set in a trendy cocktail bar in the early 1990s, it traces the adventures of four cocktail waitresses, revealing aspects of life and work from the other side of the bar through some carefully observed and humorous sketches.

Director Lisa Harrington had an excellent team of actresses to work with and she achieved a seamless, sharp, pacey production. Liza Tester, Anne Oldham, Kathleen Sharrett and Beth Tester were wonderful, as they not only played the waitresses but also the customers they served. From the forced smiles of the hard working staff, hands on faces to create a 'Ting', preparing such bizarre cocktails as a Zombie special: "looks like sick decorated with hundred and thousands", all created through convincing mime, we are introduced to their clientele.
There are lager louts on a night out, lovers celebrating a special evening but baffled by the menu, the BBC dry martini brigade all beautifully portrayed with a stinging, ironic accuracy.

Godber's earthy reality was a perfect vehicle for this talented company who embraced the rapidly changing scenes with insight and compassion. The group of shop girls visiting Chelsea Girl and the bitchy comments in the communal changing room before they went on to Shakers was hilarious.

There were more reflective moments, the boredom of mothers working at a supermarket checkout, beautifully choreographed, as they face the day-to-day trials of making ends meet and the problems and possible catastrophes of taking an off the shelf pregnancy test.

There were other tensions as the management tried to convince the waitresses to wear hot pants or even go topless in order to attract more business but this admirable band of sisters resisted all.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable evening filled with laughter from an appreciative and enthusiastic audience.