11:08 | 19th February 2019

Reviews: Live Shows

Sun 22 Jan, 2017
By Robert Ingham

hilarious lines peppering the script, all played with perfect timing

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Take three friends, add some lovers, a cruise ship and some cocktails – what do you have? The first show of 2017 from Above The Stag Theatre of course, ‘Bitches Ahoy!’, another premier from writer Martin Blackburn. Blackburn’s debut play, ‘Alright Bitches!’, also premiered at ATS’s opener last year and this is his follow-up.

Whilst ‘Alright Bitches!’ was set in a Gran Canaria hotel – where acerbic Max (Lucas Livesey), camp lothario Garth (Ethan Chapples), and wannabe-man-eater Pam (Hannah Vesty) enjoyed a week’s holiday, ‘Bitches Ahoy!’ is set in an outside cabin on a gay cruise where the trio reunite.

Garth and Pam are ready to set sail courtesy of their friend Max, one of the stewards on-board. Garth’s appetite for sex has not waned but he has found love with austere Drew (Chris Clynes), and Pam has a ring on her finger from buff and arrogant Frenchman, Patrice (Simon Burr) – both of whom have joined their respective lover for a week’s trip around the Mediterranean. However, things may not be as they seem and the drama unfolds over the seven days.

This is another well-written and very funny play from Blackburn, with hilarious lines peppering the script, all played with perfect timing from the returning actors. Vesty is hysterical to watch from the moment the show begins, and Chappels makes his character loveably relatable (as he did in ‘Alright Bitches!’) – and it is a joy to see the two of them together again as they are a wonderful pairing. Livesey impressively reprises his bitchy, world-weary character, a role which he so obviously relishes. Clynes gives a strong performance as the polar opposite to Garth and who has a few demons of his own, and there is something decidedly dodgy about Burr’s Patrice, though all becomes clear as the play progresses.

What sets this production apart from last year’s is being able to see real development in the three main characters and why they all became friends. This is clearly a show about their relationship, how friendships can be thicker than water (or Bacardi), and the ending will leave you thinking there could be another outing for them all. It is directed astutely by ATS veteran Andrew Beckett, who has also designed a gorgeous set, which truly deserves a huge mention as it is proof you don’t have to go sky-high on the budget to produce something that looks so professional. The set changes are simple and effective, all taking place under a toe-tapping, shoulder-shaking soundtrack.

All-in-all this is a great, laugh-out-loud, heartfelt production, and is a great evening to take your mind off all the craziness in real life. If we all had friends like Garth, Max and Pam, life would never be dull, although we’d probably have to take shares out in fancy-dress.

Grab your tickets before they sell-out, which is a guarantee. ‘Bitches Ahoy!’ is on until 26th February.

(pictures: PBGstudios)


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