Thursday 21st July to Saturday 23rd July and Tuesday 25th July to Saturday 30th July 1988
Directed by Jo German
Set in the Gents and Ladies loos of a Liverpool nightclub, 'Stags and Hens' is a comedy of wedding eve nerves. Discover what happens to Dave and Linda, out on their last fling before tying the nuptial knot, as their respective stag and hen parties arrive at the same venue. 'Stags and Hens' is a lively, coarse and very funny play from the author of 'Educating Rita' and 'Blood Brothers'.
'Stags and Hens' was first published in 1978 and first produced at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool in October of that year. The play is a comedy of a wedding-eve nerves. It makes comments about their intellect, life, party habits and exclusion of the different. Marriage may be a sacrifice but the traditions have to be observed; to challenge the accepted rituals is to take a dangerous path.
The play is set in a trashy 70s disco in Liverpool. The action is centred mainly in the gents and ladies' toilets of the nightclub where both Linda (The Bride) and Dave (The Groom) have decided to hold their stag and hen nights, not knowing that their fiancee is at the same venue that night. When Linda's ex-boyfriend, band-guitarist, Peter, arrives and offers her an escape she is forced with a difficult decision - to stay or to go.
'Stags and Hens' was adapted by the author in to a film called 'Dancin' thru the Dark' in 1990.
This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Stage Manager||Ben Payne|
|Lighting Design||Jacquie Penrose, Daniel Shires|
|Set Design||David Penrose|
|Poster Design||Charles Payne|
|Front of House||Jacquie Penrose|
It was John McGrath's play 'Unruly Elements' which changed Willy Russell's mind about theatre; he had previously thought of it as being stuffy and middle class. Here was a way to communicate directly through humour and dialect, to touch people's emotions, to change lives. However, Willy Russell also wants his audiences to have a good time; the spirit of social reform is always answerable to the entertainment ethic.
Willy Russell's "comedy of convenience" is set in the toilets of a seedy scouse club and aims to provide a stomach-lining view of stag and hen parties which accidentally coincide. The result is not for the squeamish, neither is it for those without a sense of humour.
"Marriage is an institution, love is blind. Who wants to live in an institution for the blind?" reads the graffiti on the lavatory wall, but despite the pitfalls of wedlock the mates of both bride and groom are determined not to let the happy couple stray off-course. This is not difficult for the husband-to-be as he spends the entire play comatose with his arms around the "great white telephone", but more so for the not-so-virginal Linda, superbly played by Jude Salmon, when she runs into the lead guitar player - her former lover - who is gigging at the club that night.
Russel has an ear for dialogue and an eye for the ironies of life, especially when his characters are following petty conventions. His keen insight makes 'Stags and Hens' his best play after 'Educating Rita'. The ending is neatly left open, but the fatal words "who'd be married today if we took notice of how we feel?" stay behind to haunt us.
The Bench Theatre produced an excellent, gutsy piece. 'Stags and Hens' runs at the Havant Arts Centre July 21-23 and 25-30.
The News, 22nd July 1988