SHEFFIELD-born actor Ian Reddington is clearly having a great time doing a new tour of John Godber’s play, Bouncers, that is calling in at the Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield this week.
“Bouncers is a national treasure,” says the former Frecheville Comprehensive pupil, who is looking forward to catching up with friends and family while he is here. He’s a diehard Sheffield Wednesday fan who goes to matches when work and family commitments allow, although he now lives ‘in the wilds’ outside London.
The actor, who got his first experience of drama through the city youth theatre company Meatwhistle, tells today’s drama students that they can’t count themselves as actors until they have done a panto, a musical and Bouncers. He was back in his home city earlier this year doing workshops for the International Student Drama Festival.
Bouncers, which is 35 years old this year, has been given a complete overhaul by John Godber, who is also directing it. He has also put together a cast of more well-known actors, rather than using his own Hull Truck company, for this tour. There are hopes that the production will transfer to London in the near future.
Ian said: “We’re certainly in the groove, we’ve been doing it for 11 weeks now. There’s no other way to approach this play. We‘re all on stage all of the time, playing all of the characters. We’ve really formed a tight-knit group, we stay in the same place, share the same dressing room. If we get into trouble we get ourselves out of it!”
Bouncers tells the story of four nightclub bouncers and their customers out for a night on the town. Ian, who has had long stints in both Eastenders as Tricky Dicky and Coronation Street as Vernon Tomlin, in his 33-year career, is starring alongside Ace Bhatti, who was Albert Square’s smooth-talking GP Yusef Khan, Don Gilet, who played killer Lucas in Eastenders, and William Ilkley, who has featured in Coronation Street.
He said: “Our paths never crossed, I’m slightly older than the other two Eastenders guys.” His more recent TV roles have included playing Tommy in long-running Channel 4 show Shameless and Johnny Neptune in ITV comedy Benidorm.
Ian said that John Godber has developed lots of new ideas for Bouncers and updated a lot of the characters and scenarios. He added: “One of the point he brings out is that being a bouncer now is not what what it was; they have CCTV footage now and they are all licensed. Gone are the days when you could take someone round the back and sort them out. A couple of them are feeling really frustrated by this. You have to go through a whole protocol now.
“There’s also a lot about John having got a lot older particularly reflected in my character, Lucky Eric. He’s watching beautiful 18-year-olds passing in front of him. He’s divorced and they’re not interested.”
He added: “If you’ve got history with Bouncers, this is the version you’ve never seen. It’s got a darker moral underbelly.”
At the same time, he added that someone has worked out there is a laugh every 30 seconds in Bouncers. He said: “I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying the play. It’s one of the best experiences I’ve had.” He joked: “There should be a by-law that nothing can last more than two hours with a laugh every 30 seconds!”
He added that the show has a special place in the hearts of a lot of theatre-goers as it has been around for such a long time. “When we were in High Wycombe, one woman wrote to us to say that on her first date with her boyfriend he took her to see Bouncers. They were coming again to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. I do a speech at the end of the play with a list of names of people who have got together and got married after meeting at the club and I added them in and read their names out. There was a whoop of recognition from them in the audience!”
He has just finished a film, Maria Monday and the Magic Box, which comes out next year, and after Bouncers has no firm plans at the moment.
He’s very relaxed about it, saying: “You never know how one job spins into another one. I’ve lasted for 33 years without doing any other job. That makes me feel reasonably comfortable that there’s something coming in.”
Bouncers is at the Pomegranate Theatre until Saturday (November 10).