As you enter the Hope Mill Bar the cast are already waiting at tables.  Buy a drink, or a token for a cocktail and find a seat.  There’s good attention to detail, glow sticks, menus with cast bios, sweets in cocktail glasses.  There’s a one to one briefing from a waitress about what will happen; it’s an effective way of drawing you into the production and into the space.

Shakers tells the story of a night at this bar.  The cast of four play the worn down waitresses Adele (Natalie Fletcher), Mel (Amy Drake), Carol (Heather Carroll) and Nicky (Eve Burley), and an eclectic mix of regulars, male and female.  The main characters are strong and despite the play’s age, their issues are still as relevant today – money, love, body image, family – and cultural references are updated effectively.  The bar’s customers are well drawn but this is one area where the social context of the eighties is lost.

Directed by Megan Marie Griffith, this play is a joy to watch.  It’s an ambitious production, completely reliant on having a cast talented enough to realise the vision.  But it’s full of movement and life.  There are wonderful variations in pace between the high energy scenes, the poignant moments, and the times when those actors not needed for the scene are just clearing the tables and taking orders.  Immersive theatre is hard to do well, but this is an impressive production and the venue becomes a character in itself; every inch of the bar room is used in some away.

Sit back, take a drink and enjoy the play as it unfolds all around you!

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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