This show finished on Saturday 25 March 2023, and this page is being kept for archival purposes only.



Wednesday 22 March - Saturday 25 March 2023


Bedlam Theatre


£8 with a cocktail, £4 without


John Godber


As alcohol is being served as part of this production you must be 18+ to attend, IDs will be checked upon arrival

Shakers is a play which follows the stories of Carol, Adele, Niki, and Mel as they work in a wanna-be-classy cocktail bar. As they serve and imitate clientele from every walk of life and the bar becomes a perfect petri-dish of humanity. The play provides a wickedly funny glimpse of this world as seen through the eyes of the four long-suffering waitresses, offering a fascinating view of the reality that lurks behind the neon signs and Negronis.

This production of shakers will be performed in a functioning bar. As such cocktails, made by Carol, Adele, Nicki and Mel, will be available for you to purchase before the show and during the interval. Cocktails will also be served by the actors during the show. Those seats marked in bright red will be served a cocktail at some point during the production, the type of cocktail that will be served is listed in the seat description when booking. If you have any questions about ingredients etc please email [email protected]

Cast and Crew


Actor Lucy Melrose

Actor Abby Brooks

Actor Hollie Avery

Assistant Director / Set Designer Lilli Steffens

Assistant Producer Jemima Jayne

Costume Manager Chloe Lannert

Director Izzy Ponsford

Producer Honor Collingwood

Stage Manager Zoe Beckett

Tech Manager Freya Game

Review for Shakers -

Thursday 23 March - By Thom Dibdin for All Edinburgh Theatre


The EUTC make a decent fist of Shakers, at the Bedlam all week, playing to the broad comedy of the John Godber and Jane Thornton’s script but finding their best in its moments of pathos.

Director Izzy Ponsford has taken the excellent but potentially tricky decision to stage the show, about four waitresses in a cocktail bar, in the bar of the Bedlam. It’s not perfect but it easily passes muster and, for Bedlam veterans, this is as warm as I have ever experienced the venue in many years of reviewing there.

Shakers is Godber and Thornton’s sister piece to Bouncers. And in a similar vein, it takes the framework of four characters in their working posts, then adds to that their depictions of – and reflections on – the punters around them, as well as diving into the characters’ own backstories.

All four performers here create more than passable basic characters, in a production which is set, as it was originally written for Hull Truck theatre company, in 1985. Here is a northern English town, in a time when a £2 cocktail was an acceptable, if slightly pricy, reality against the background of Thatcher’s Britain.

When it comes to observation of the cocktails waitresses as barkeeps they generate a fine level of detail, from the mixing of cocktails for the audience – some seats come with a bonus cocktail include on the price – and the natural back and forth when people are working behind a bar.

live music

They are helped by the production design itself. The immersive setting stretches to live music, with Zain Cruickshank on bass and Theo Vickers on piano significantly adding to the atmosphere of the bar design from Lilli Steffens which is unobtrusively lit by Freya Game.

Building out of this, each actor brings strongly natural realism, particularly to the monologues that go into their backstory.

Hollie Avery is particularly compelling as Carol, bright but shunned at school, she has been away to college but found herself without the right background for the jobs she aspires to – then on coming home that she is over qualified for the jobs she has to settle for.

Avery does bolshy very well, standing up for their rights when young Nicki (Abby Brooks) comes in wearing shorts, as requested by the bar’s owner. Brooks herself is exceptional in the scene where Nicki is seen auditioning for a theatre role, with a self-written piece about her gran having a heart attack. There is both a nervousness and a warmth to the speech.


Izzy Pleasance is never less than interesting to watch as Mel, happy to be at Shakers after the boredom of working in a dead-beat old man’s pub. While Lucy Melrose as Adele brings a poignancy to her tale of telling her parents she was going on holiday to Scotland, when in reality she was having an abortion.

It’s when the play steps away from these four characters to look at the punters that the comedy gets broader and the differentiation becomes less clear.

They are still fun pieces of observational comedy: lads egging each other on to ask for a “long slow comfortable screw”; media types hiding from their wives, fit boys in their puffa jackets or the old duffers in flat caps at Mel’s previous job. Or girls getting ready to go out, being bitchy out clothes shopping or trying to squeeze into a pair of too small jeans.

It’s all fine enough, with the different characters being worked into the flow of the show well, while different hats help generate a bit of character, but there are not enough dimensions to each type for any one type to stand out and as a consequence they tend to blur into one, rather excitable, whole.

It feels as if the actors were just forcing the comedy that bit too much, broadening it out where they could relax and let the script do more of the heavy lifting.

Despite the usually excellent staging, there are also a few small false steps. Strange to see a smart phone in use in 1985 – and while 50 Shades of Gray is certainly an in-character read for Mel, it was not published until 2011.

That said, this is still a nicely turned piece of comedy, helped along by its semi-immersive setting, which has the essential hints of serious issues to make the laughs the more hard won and satisfying for it.

Review for Shakers -

Friday 24 March - By Dominic Corr for Corr Blimey

It takes a lot to convince that frequenting a bar might somehow be better than a glass of red and a night of self-loathing over a book. But if there’s a group that can manage it, well, EUTC certainly can.

The intrinsic value and beauty in the Bedlam catalogue is their continual rummage in the pantheon of theatrical pieces, repeatedly showcasing forgotten texts or long-unrun shows. This time, director Izzy Ponsford forgoes the usual theatrical space in the Bedlam rear and instead opts for a charmingly conceived and fabulous idea to stage John Godber and Jane Thornton’s Shakers, a sister production to Bouncers, within the Bedlam Café, converted into a cocktail bar.

A cast of Hollie Avery, Izzy Pleasance, Lucy Melrose, and Abby Brooks not only each take a turn of character study and monologue and not only give life to a veritable turntable of bar hops and visitors but take the work-based show format to the extreme as the performers continue their working posts as they perform, delivering cocktails to tables and guests who plum for the pricey (still excessively reasonable) tickets.

Ponsford decides to retain the production’s setting within the grip of Thatcher’s Britain for the most part, or at least the cost of the drinks suggests this. But if anything should have pulled Shakers into a contemporary world since they’re already expanding the roster of bar visitors to a more familiar (and occasionally nauseating) host of bar visitors and including prop usage and phrases outwith the time period.

Though limited in space, it is used to the fullest by Ponsford’s direction. Lilli Steffen’s design ensures the cast maintains a sense of busy momentum whilst the immersive setting is pitched to completion with live music, courtesy of Zain Cruickshank’s bass and Theo Vicker’s time at the piano, a very welcome additional to add depth to it all. And though lighting is often inconspicuous, Freya Game’s shifts from stage floods to emotional crimson peaks have a nice touch.

Outside of their intense monologue, at no point does Izzy Pleasance take a breath or pause as Mel, who still finds a sense of excitement (they tell themselves) working at the Shakers bar. Bounding around the stage, their projection crystal clear even with outside interference, Pleasance imbues a genuine understanding in Mel a woman who is both content and aspirational, even if they refuse, or can’t, show it. Diving further into their character, Lucy Melrose’s Adele takes time to get to their ‘story’ or motivation – but it’s precisely the pacing needed for their revelations. Striking out with a host of dialects, physical performances and facial contortions, at this point, Melrose is just showing off with their expansive repertoire of character performances with EUTC.

Against the pinballing energy, Hollie Avery’s Carol is a touch more subdued and highly relatable: finding themselves with an education but no experience to enter into the employment she desires. That’s not to say Avery isn’t gunning for the comedic crown, donning both flat cap and puffa jacket to offer additional slices to the punters the bar staff must endure, and turning in a deliciously vicious half of a posh couple. And she pairs remarkably well with Abby Brooks playing a young Nicki, hopeful to a life outside of the bar, with an authentic nervous energy which is propped up by a youthful hope and determination.

What the cast excels at is their command of poignancy, each delivering magnificent monologues to round their characters, grasping these roles created decades ago and drawing them into the familiar world – demonstrating to the audience how little has advanced in areas, worsened in others. Comedically, Shakers run the risk of cocktail roulette. Sometimes you’ll strike a French Martini, like when the cast aims at the or the older gentleman arguing by the bar. Other times you’ll get a Boilermaker. And like a shot tossed into a pint, the comedy just isn’t necessary for these moments. And if anything, the comedy is perhaps a touch too run-of-the-mill for the cast who have previously demonstrated a tremendous capability which ranges from the comedically farcical to the subtle.

Often humourous, more often touchingly poignant and well-structured, Shakers is a firey success for the EUTC and Bedlam Theatre – one that, despite the drawbacks of the original script, Ponsford and crew can be happy with. There’s a mixed blessing in the audience tonight, sold-out, joyous, and communal. A warmth in the Bedlam Café with the surrounding EUTC members, friends, and past performers – what is noticeably lacking is the support of those outside the theatre’s pool. Some look to Bedlam productions with raised eyebrows: and they’re missing out. The quality, and diversity of productions crafted in Britain’s oldest student-run theatre are as meritorious to the city as any other new writing venue or established juggernaut.



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