Thursday, September 8, 2011

Stags and Hens - Review - Customs House

Stags and Hens
Ion Productions
Customs House
7 Sept 2011

To celebrate its fifth anniversary ION Productions brings a new production of its very first show, Willy Russell’s Stags and Hens.

There is nowt like a good night on the town, large-ing it up, eyeing up the talent, finding food and trying to keep out of harms way. Bonding with who you are out with (and keeping it that way) is an essential deal.
Dave (Chris Corkin) is getting married in the morning to Linda (Rachael Walsh), and in time honoured fashion decide that a last night of freedom is on the cards. Rounding up his closest and strangest friends that you can think of. Dave and his merry crew-Eddy (David Foster), Robbie (the brilliant Craig Richardson), Kav (Steven Stobbs) and Billy (Graeme Cook) all head off to the local club with beer, music and birds on their minds (not necessarily in that order). Dave feeling the urge to let his hair down, get stuck into the beer in such a ferocious manner that he becomes ill and spends the rest of the night checking the porcelain on the toilet. 

Linda has the same idea as her intended, to go wild for the last night, like Dave she reaches into her contact book and brings along an assortment of best friends, and the 'odd' hangeronerer. They: Bernadette- (Natalie Elleithy), Frances (Kylie Ford), Carol (Sarah Tetchner) and Maureen (Corrinne Kilvington) just want to dance the  night away. Little do they both know, but they have chosen the same club to while away the hours.

The mainstay of the performance is all toilet based, and a lot of it toilet humour. Some very funny and frank discussions go on in the toilet between the different groups. The lads talk about the girls in the club and the varying degree of sexual molestation's that they want to inflict upon them, the Sunday morning football that a few of them are involved in, and the general putting-the-world to-rights talk. The girls however mainly talk about their ex's, the clothes that they are wearing,make up and how soon it will be before they will be drunk...all in very bawdy terms.

Everything is gearing up to be a good night until up pops the star turn of the night. The club have a local lad turned mega-charlie playing a selection of his 'hits'. This happens to be Peter (Mal Hall) an ex of Linda. Peter turned on his heels and left the region for the bright lights of London Village a while ago, he was seeing Linda at the time, but she turned down his offer of going with him. 
This is the point when both parties know that both parties are in the same club.
All hell breaks loose with the girls fearing that she still has a crush on him, the lads go ape after seeing them dance to some salubrious tunes. Both factions put it to themselves that they must do something about the situation. The girls take it in turns to talk to Linda, to try and get her feelings out on show, but drink and silliness get in the way. The lads however take a more proactive approach and confront Peter, in a nasty sort of Geordie gangster way. 
As you can imagine with drink,libido and pride (the normal Geordie way of life!!!) things are never easy, always complications along the wayside, with somebody always putting their foot in it.
Gareth Hunter as head of Ion Productions is as versatile as they come, not only does he act, but he sings, directs and produces shows to a massive high degree of quality. I have in recent times only just come across Gareth, and from what I have seen (and heard) his company will go on for a long time to come.
A good setting of gents and ladies toilets separated by a corridor kept the actors enveloped. I was disappointed that a little black man selling aftershave and charging people to wash their hands in the toilets wasn't cast.. haha
Marty on sound and light was spot on with his direction, every opening of every door needed precision on them knobs.
Stags and Hens for me was the adult Geordie version of C4's hit TV and now movie starlets The Inbetweeners, some fantastic comedy, genuine laugh out loud moments brilliant acting by all on show (the fantastic Bob Stott even popped up now and then as Peter's roadie)and some heartfelt camaraderie, made it a night to remember. Please take the time out to see this show, you wont be disappointed.

Runs until Saturday

Michael Hunter

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