It’s Edinburgh in the 80s; a busy night at the cocktail bar, Shakers, with four waitresses – Adele, Carole, Mel, and Nicky running around trying to satisfy all their customers while allowing us a glimpse into their own lives.

Written by John Godber and Jane Thornton, this revised version of the 1980s play is presented by The Edinburgh Graduates Theatre Group. While the original script is based in North England, Hilary Spiers has brought this universal story to Edinburgh, where jokes are just as relevant and stories told could’ve happened today. 

Shakers has a good, strong start, immediately diving into the hospitality world of questionable characters, misogynistic men and pretentious couples where martinis are not the only dirty thing on the menu. Nicola Hamilton, Eilidh Smith, Lois Williams, and Rhona O’Donnell have great comical chemistry as they take on different characters, the next more outrageous than the previous. Their unmatched energy is as impressive as the impressions of customers everyone with experience working at a bar would appreciate.

There is a sudden and swift change in direction as Shakers moves from comedy to drama, taking us to darker places meant to move the audience and enable us to relate to the characters. Suddenly, too much is happening as we find out more about the main characters and their private lives, each of them going through a different clichéd issue and experience, making me wish we could just stay at Shakers and dive into the experiences of working at a bar. By the time we reach the end, I’m just as tired as the performers must be, forced to feel emotions I didn’t feel were necessary.

With too many ingredients put together, this cocktail comes out shaken, perhaps, one too many times, the taste of sweet and bitter clashing in my mouth. Even though the show is relevant, it may need to look into the future rather than the past as there are so many more possibilities and stories to truthfully depict bar life – originality begging to be used.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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