Shakers Re-stirred

Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich

Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich

Combining earthy humour with wry social observation, John Godber's depictions of working-class experience have seen him become one of the country's most performed playwrights.

Written with his wife, Jane Thornton, this acerbic take on metropolitan nightlife was originally conceived as a female counterpart to Bouncers, Godber's acclaimed parody of the northern club scene.

Shakers may not be the city's most salubrious nightspot but all human life can be found within. Local lads out on the lash collide with corpulent executives and boozy good-time girls. For waitresses Adele (Emily Ambler), Carol (Heidi Kiddle), Mel (Lottie Fletcher) and Nicky (Josie Catherine), the opportunity of gaining an insight into human nature beats any anthropology degree.

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There are uniformly strong performances from the ensemble cast, who successfully convey the camaraderie and drudgery of working in hospitality. Consisting of brief, punchy sketches rather than an unfolding narrative, the play's momentum is maintained with a vigorous physicality. Whether straining to squeeze into not-yet-bought jeans or charting the progress of a girls' night out, the cast successfully portray hapless punters before nimbly slipping back into their main characters.

This satisfyingly boisterous production is a reminder that while service may come with a smile, there are always hidden stories behind the rictus grins.

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