Review: Stags and Hens at Sheringham Little Theatre

A scene from Stags and Hens at Sheringham Little Theatre.

A scene from Stags and Hens at Sheringham Little Theatre. - Credit: Supplied by Richard Batson/SLT

Group trips to the toilets between bouts of dancing. Too much alcohol. Hope, flirting and heartbreak. Someone left in tears (more than once) and a fistfight almost breaking out. 

Many of us will be able to remember a few nights out like that from our youth but rarely does it all transpire quite like in this energetic and delightful production of and Stags and Hens. 

Kicking off Sheringham Little Theatre's summer season, this bleak comedy set in the gents' and women's of a run-down Liverpool nightclub still rings true even though it was written in 1978.

A scene from Stags and Hens at Sheringham Little Theatre.

A scene from Stags and Hens at Sheringham Little Theatre. - Credit: Supplied by Richard Batson/SLT

The premise is fairly straightforward - Linda (played by Amy Skilton) and Dave (Max Powell) are getting married in the morning, and their respective groups of friends have taken them out on stags' and hens' nights - each without knowing their other half is in the same venue. 

Linda's doubts about the wedding grow, especially after she runs into an old flame, the successful musician Peter (Josh Ross), while Dave spends almost the whole evening the worse for wear in one of the lavs. 

One of the main themes comes from a central 1970s working-class, northern question: Is it possible - or even desirable - to improve yourself by moving away from the place you grew up and starting afresh?

A scene from Stags and Hens at Sheringham Little Theatre.

A scene from Stags and Hens at Sheringham Little Theatre. - Credit: Supplied by Richard Batson/SLT

The play has a strong young cast including Olly Westlake as Kav, whose artistic skills - displayed on the side of a stall - prompt a riff about whether we should really aspire for more out life. 

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Skilton is wonderfully conflicted as Linda the bride, while her friends including 'cry baby' Maureen (Alice Read-Haynes) and Natasha Culley as Bernadette have their deadpan delivery of the often-hilarious dialogue down to a T.

Charlie Allan-Smith has a strong stage presence as the brawny, violent Eddy, and Tom Girvin's performance as the 'ladies' man' Robbie is another highlight.

Stags and Hens (with shows until Saturday, August 6) is the first of the Little Theatre's series of summer features, which will next week include the thriller Wait Until Dark, before moving onto the musical Summer Holiday and the comedy Table Manners.

Review by Stuart Anderson