This show captures an average shift for the staff at the Jinglin’ Geordie, but there’s nothing else average about it. It’s a glorious celebration of that great British institution, the pub – presented here as a place to find all kinds of folk in shared camaraderie, chinking glasses.
It opens with a punch of performance poetry which causes the audience to sit up; and it continues to be a surprise from start to finish. The troupe of twelve perform colourful song-and-dance routines with perceptive humour, poetry and tragedy, each character having a turn to deliver their own familiar, yet touching, story.
The landlords are a sister-and-brother duo at each other’s throats – flinging everything they possibly can at each other, in an argument which builds then quickly comes crashing down as they finally kiss and make up. They inherited the pub from their late mum.
Their staff consist of a barman from Ecuador who has been around the block (and teaches his young assistant a few things, bless), and a bouncer on the door who lost his girl after losing his temper – antagonised by a drunken idiot who dared to fondle her. Her side of the story differs, exposing how we see things so differently to others, depending on our point of view.
It’s not clear whether Bunny wears long fur sticky-up ears because of his name, or whether he is so-named because he wears the ears; anyway he represents the recognisable lovable pest. He evidently has nowhere else to go and is politely humoured by other punters, chucked out only when he starts making himself a nuisance.
A scene devoted to the pub quiz – we are given out answer papers – is hilarious, as it becomes clear that the quizmaster’s wry questions are linked to an issue in his personal life. Another memorable scene involves a guitarist, at the pub for a gig, and her competition: a fan of the band she is covering. Their sing- and dance-off is riotous.
There’s just one criticism. Whilst the piece is ‘site specific’, the audience was very squashed, with little floor space left for the performers. A larger space dressed to look like a pub would have allowed the performers to showcase their talents to the max, and in my view would be worth forsaking the genuine atmosphere for.
But then again, Not Too Tame’s intention is to ‘engage those who feel that theatre isn’t a place where they belong’. Whoever the other punters were, I’m certain they would not have been disappointed. And as a regular theatregoer I also found it brilliant fun, definitely something to talk about down the local.