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SHAKERS at ERT. 28/4/17

Further proof that Godber is God, ERT’s adaptation of his world-famous play “Shakers” reminded one and all that there are few comedy-writers as clever as John.

Set in an eighties cocktail bar, the titular “Shakers”, the two-set play revolves around four young waitresses. As well as playing the put-upon waitresses, the actresses play four girls who are on a night out, drinking in the establishment. Not only that, but the actresses also “play” a band of upper-class toffs to hilarious effect.

With each section of the play bookended by bursts of Eighties pop music, “Shakers” is broken down into bite-sized scenes, some of them witty beyond belief, others deadly serious. The more serious scenes morph out of each individual waitress’ chance to open up in a confessional-styled address direct to the audience, in order that they reveal something of their personal lives. While one of the girls professes to loving her job so much that she can’t ever imagine leaving, the others are quietly hatching “escape plans”, their dreams at odds with the hand that reality has so far dealt them.

For those who have never worked in retail and / or hospitality sectors, it might come as some surprise that just because frontline staff in such sectors are “all smiles”, it doesn’t necessarily mean that such smiles are genuine. Far from it, in fact. Cleverly, “Shakers” allows us the opportunity to see both sides of affairs, the behind-the-scenes scenes helping us to empathise with the waitresses all the more.

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Starring Amy Thompson as Adele, Annie Kirkman as Carol, Kate Huntsman as Nicky and Laura Aramayo as Mel, all actresses gelled incredibly well on stage, knowing their characters inside out. With all four of them hailing from East Yorkshire, it comes as no surprise to learn that they’ve all performed in the Hull area before, Amy Thompson the most accomplished actress amongst them, a staggering amount of theatre credits to her name. However, she’s most likely to be recognised from TV, as she can often be seen on “Milkshake!”

In spite of having been written more than thirty years ago, the main “Shakers” themes remain as relevant as ever. Godber’s “voice” resonates with aplomb, the northern nuances contained in the dialogue making it blatantly obvious that Godber is from Yorkshire, his biting sense of humour forever at the forefront of his writing.

With set distractions at a minimum, the backdrop consisting of a simple (albeit stage-consuming) bottle stand, the likes of which can be seen behind most bars, it was up to Thompson, Kirkman, Huntsman and Aramayo to hold the audience’s attention, which they did with professional flair, both fifty-minute acts an absolute pleasure to witness.

(Steve Rudd)

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