REVIEW: Laughter and grit aplenty in Kenilworth theatre's latest triumph

Underlying sense of sadness: Stags and Hens
Underlying sense of sadness: Stags and Hens

Charles Essex reviews Stags and Hens - The Remix at the Talisman Theatre, Kenilworth

Relive your (misspent) youth. Re-experience the “enjoyment” of disco nights, getting drunk, trying to score with a member of the opposite sex, retreating to the toilets to boast, commiserate and encourage mates. Judging by the laughter, Willy Russell’s play was all too familiar to many of the audience.

Yet again the Talisman players put on a superb performance as Liverpool in the '80s came to Kenilworth. A stag night and hen do, unbeknown to the prospective bride and groom, descend on the same disco. Fortunately the action did not take place on the dance floor, the music only being heard occasionally as actors came and went through the doors from the toilets. Compliments to the crew for creating the set – awful, graffiti-ridden toilets where banter and conversation, boasts and recriminations were played out, surprisingly similar in each gender’s toilet.

The machismo to was surprisingly similar between the women and men, friends of the bride-to-be and groom-to-be, respectively. For all the bravado they were sad, shallow characters, mocking each other whilst the audience saw both sides of the story and the underlying sense of sadness in empty lives.

The actors maintained accents and character throughout. Jimmy Proctor and Sam Harris were especially powerful as the leaders of the respective gangs, but all the actors deserve praise, even ‘drunken’ Gus Crawshaw who had to lay slumped into a toilet for almost the whole play!

The tone changed after the interval as bride Linda met up with an old flame who had left two years earlier to go to London. Provocative discussion from him and threats from friends followed which Linda rebutted but her flit through the toilet window showed her desire for a better life, a different life, leaving behind a culture of no ambition or achievement.

* The play runs until Saturday June 17. Call 856548 or visit www.talismantheatre.co.uk to book.