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Stage Review : Second Look At 'Bouncers' At Tiffany

June 18, 1987|SYLVIE DRAKE | Times Theater Writer

Those bad boys standing outside the disco, the bar, the nightclub, Dante's hell, flexing their biceps, snarling and frowning for bait, have brand new faces at the Tiffany these days. But everything else is the same: same lowlife types in tuxedos, ready to toss those troublemakers through the door--assuming they've allowed them in to begin with. Same regimented glower at punkish British toughs.

A second look at John Godber's "Bouncers" brings no major surprises. This choreographed play with music (choreography Jeff Calhoun, music Bruce Goldstein) that has been winning awards at the Tiffany Theatre for nine months has changed only its actors. Director Ron Link has carefully drilled his new ensemble--Robert Duncan, Joe Hart, Christopher MacDonald and Travis Swords--in the wayward, bullying ways of a rough sort of British Blue Collardom. These guys are a tad less assured than the original four (and what is that pony tail Duncan has chosen to adopt?), but their prankish misdemeanors and competitive edge remain the same: overstated, repetitive and smartly executed.

On second viewing, the content of Godber's piece seems more threadbare than ever. (Claims to political overtones are grossly exaggerated, and a real stretch of wishful thinking.) How many times must one get drunk and throw up to make a point?

The sharpness of the execution is in the polished tradition of L.A. Theatre Works, the producing organization. By virtue of its exclusive focus on this turbulent, often unsavory bunch of younger guys, this is an entertainment that a young audience will tune into more than an older one. It's a show that one appreciates less for what it says than how it says it: by delivering a slick, super-synchromeshed, Cockney diatribe on the pleasures and pall of modern English life. It's all style, form and energy.

The English dialects are again in place and pose the same relatively minor problem they did before: They sometimes make it hard to follow what's being said, though the ear eventually becomes attuned. Not hearing can be an asset at "Bouncers." It often enhances the sense of caged-animal noises in society's zoo.

Lighting designer Peter Maradudin's intricate play with suggestive light and shadow continues to powerfully augment Cliff Faulkner's mostly empty stage. The effects are deliberately smoky and stark, with vivid results. This is one case where the frame looks at least as good as the picture.

Performances at 8532 Sunset Blvd. (213-652-6165).

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