Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Shakers Re-Stirred, -Review- Westovians Theatre

Shakers Re-Stirred
Westovians Theatre
24 September 2012

Monday night found me braving the wind and wild weather to see Shakers Re-stirred at the Westovian’s Theatre.

The play follows the experiences of four waitresses one night in the local trendy cocktail bar, their customers range from the laddish lads out on the pull, through the shop girls out to celebrate a birthday; on to the local business men and minor celebrities out for cocktails and a meal after work. Whatever their background, they are all drunk to a degree, their behaviour towards the waitresses lewd, and rude and condescending. Relationships are tested and tempers fray as the evening wears on, but each waitress has a story of her own to tell.

It has a cast of just four: but a character list of dozens. Four actresses play all the parts and do much of the scenery moves. So it was hardly surprising to find a certain quiet panic in the theatre before the curtain went up – they had just an hour earlier received the news that one of the actresses was unable to go on! Cast and crew decided to go ahead with a stand in – a brave decision especially for producer Amy Harris who agreed step up to the role – an experienced behind the scenes contributor to Westovian productions, she is not usually found on stage. It was a big ask, but the alternative was to cancel the show and send away those bold souls who had bested the weather to attend!  Clearly, the show had to go on.

And it did indeed go ahead. Below strength, obviously but Laura Pigford, Amy Jeffels and Rachael Walsh put on a great show. They brought to life the extremes of life in a 1990s wine bar – the tedium, the leery customers, the sore feet, the irate chef, the patronising clientele. They seemingly effortlessly swapped identities, between customers and waitresses.
I have seen plays with a small cast covering all the action, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
This one works!
A small tweak to the waitress costume identifies the different customers types – adding a pair of sunglasses here, a fur coat or a briefcase there, a party hat or (my favourite) a bow tie transformed into a moustache. Most of these changes are made on stage, so that the audience feel they are being included in the joke, and it ensures that the action flows smoothly.

Much as I loved the waitresses, for me the supermarket checkout girls celebrating a birthday were the best part of the play. Anyone who has ever had tried on clothes in a Top Shop changing room, or cried drunkenly over a man in the ladies loo in a nightclub will identify with them!

This is a funny, sad, hopeful play – the girls are in a dead end job but they each have their dreams, and there is the hope that they will achieve them. It was well performed and produced. I think it is a testament to the spirit of the cast that even with a man short they were able to make it work. No disrespect to Amy who adequately plugged the gap, but had they had their full compliment it would have been a powerful performance. The audience were given the option of their money back if they weren’t happy – I didn’t see anyone leave their seats.

Well done to cast and crew!

Shakers Re-Stirred is playing until Saturday 29th.

Denise Sparrowhawk

1 comment:

  1. Saw this production on Saturday and enjoyed it immensely. The performance of the 4 girls as they switched from character to character was excellent Every credit due.