Even before the show has begun, the set of Shakers: Re-stirred, directed by Georgina Deri, is already impressive. There are menus on the walls of the Corpus Playroom, ABBA background music and moody, multicoloured lighting to capture the atmosphere of an 80s cocktail bar. You can even buy drinks from the four cast members, who serve from behind the bar on centre stage. This invites the audience into the play, involving them in the characters’ situation and experiences.
Shakers: Re-stirred is a four-hander, and the cast multi-rolls well as they switch between the waitresses, a group of supermarket cashiers on a night out, and the repulsive and sexist punters. With these characters, they tell the story of a night in the Shakers bar. Although there is not much variation between individual characters, they create a distinctive and different dynamic for each group which makes it clear who they are playing at any time. However, their transitions between different characters are sometimes slow and awkward as they pause the action to move furniture around. Their willingness to allow awkward silences does also work well in funnier moments, such as when customers take a painstakingly long time to decide on their order.
The cast balances comedy, such as when Adele (Meg Coslett) accuses the audience of having ordered the cursed seafood pasta, and more serious, touching moments in their thought tracking monologues. Lydia Clay-White displays an impressive range in her portrayal of Mel, appearing superficial and prickly, but then giving a poignant monologue about Mel’s longing for stability with a man she has just met, and her worries that she might be infertile after an abortion.
Deasil Waltho’s lighting is used creatively throughout, switching from bright and vibrant colours in the bar to red lighting during monologues. No one seemed quite sure where one of the spotlights was for much of the play – luckily Coslett brushed this off, jokingly making a comment that ‘the lighting [in the bar] is shit’.
The cast of Shakers: Re-stirred creates likeable characters that are both vulnerable and defiant, striking a balance between accepting their situation and fighting against it. The opening and closing of the play are highly choreographed and spoken with confidence, but both end with the insincere smiles which the waitresses give the hated customers, reminding the audience that their feelings beneath the comedy and smiles are not to be ignored.