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24 May 2013


Old Court Theatre, Chelmsford
Friday 24th May 2013

Following the resounding success of CTW's excellent production of Bouncers last year, Artistic Director Joe Kennedy has chosen to produce John Godber's all-female follow up this season.  Structured similarly to the male version, an almost bare set houses a cast of four actresses who play the waitresses at "Shakers", as well as the cocktail bar's various male and female customers.  Jaded to varying degrees by the clichés involved in selling a never ending stream of "Slow Comfortable Screws", the ladies' weary smiles and feigned politeness are coupled with a collection of witty asides and touching monologues developing a core of rounded characters.

The four attractive ladies in CTW's cast took on the challenges of the format with relish and energy.  With extended sections of choreography, a diverse range of characterisations, and individual moments of poignancy, an assorted skill set was called upon giving each of the ladies an opportunity to show their strengths.  Catherine Hitchins' acting skills were matched by her evident dancing ability, as both her choreographed and improvised movement showcased her talents and complemented her overall performance.  Both Caroline Wright and Helen Quigley shone in their emotional monologues, switching the mood of the room as they divulged their character's secrets.  Gemma Robinson proved herself an accomplished all-rounder, superbly expressive with a natural flair for comedy, she danced with skill and adapted to each character with striking contrast in an excellent, comic performance.

It is difficult not to make comparisons against Godber's original Bouncers script, and Shakers never quite lives up to the quality of the male version.  The humour is far subtler than the unrelenting, insightful, laugh-out-loud comedy written for the men, and despite some lovely moments from the tight-knit cast there were times where the slick pace started to waiver.  

Director Joe Kennedy and assistant Jacob Burtenshaw were clearly inclusive and collaborative in their approach, benefiting from the perspective and skills that the company could contribute.  The result overall achieved another entertaining and enjoyable production from CTW, who change the tone for their next show with political drama Frost/Nixon.

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