Review: Stags and Hens

hensWe’ve all been there, a Stag or Hen night at some grotty nightclub, some members of the invited drunk, others dispensing worldly advice and pre-wedding nerves and doubts.

Stags and Hens by Willy Russell is gritty, loud and vulgar (and contains strong language), it is also brilliantly well-written and a highly enjoyable piece. Based in 1970s Liverpool the story features a group of Stags and Hens who accidentally both end up at the same nightclub.

Two Rivers Theatre Company are a local am-dram group whose base is at Sproughton, near the River Gipping but in this production all of the ensemble manage to sound like they have just come up from the banks of the Mersey. Full credit must be given for the Liverpuddlian accents which are maintained throughout the production, a feat very often failed even by the most accomplished of productions.

The setting for Stags and Hens is not in the nightclub itself but in the Ladies and Gents toilets. Dave, the bridegroom, an early casualty to the drink, spends the entire night crouched over the basin in the cubicle. His mates “look after him” while debating the pros and cons of marriage and conquests of the fairer sex.

stagsThe bride, Linda, meanwhile locks herself in the ladies cubicle, clearly doubting if marriage is for her? This doubt is heightened even more when she bumps into ex-flame, turned singer Pete, who tries to whisk her away to a more exciting life, will she won’t she?
The cast all give great and convincing performances, some of the delivery in the earlier scenes could be tightened up but this may improve during the run.

This is director Mark Watts first piece for Two Rivers and an admirable first production well executed managing to give the audience a sense of being a fly on the wall of the rather grubby public conveniences.

Stags and Hens is a well-worth night out by an impressive and talented local am-dram group.

• Stags and Hens at The Sir John Mills Theatre, Gatacre Road, Ipswich until 19th October, 2013. Box office 211498.

— Mark Keable, Ipswich24 —