Review: The Still Room, at Park 90 Theatre

Thursday, 16th June — By Lucy Popescu

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SET in a Manchester hotel in 1981, Sally Rogers’ dark comedy explores the lives of four banqueting waitresses and the testosterone-fuelled world they inhabit.

Janice (an impressive debut from Kate James) is anxiously awaiting her O-level results. Janice and her friend Karen (Larner Wallace-Taylor) obsess about their virginity and get through their shifts with crass humour.

When Diane (Zoe Brough) joins the staff, their narrow outlook shifts. Diane is everything they’re not: middle class, smart, with a steady boyfriend. She’s only taken the job so she can go Greek island-hopping.

The fourth is older, worldly-wise Bernice (Jane Slavin), who just wants to sit in peace and watch Charles marry Diana.

The men rule the roost: their boss Kevin (Chris Simmons) is a buffoon with wandering hands, who doesn’t realise he has terrible BO. Dean (Jack Colgrave Hirst), the barman, struts like a peacock around the women.

Sally Rogers drives home the sexism of the time – the hotel is hosting the “Miss North West” competition – and Janice’s yearning to escape the confines of gender and class.

Although the comic lines come thick and fast there is little plot to speak of other than will the girls lose their virginity. One does in a shocking and public display. This and the final sombre monologue, where Janice begs not to be left behind, sit oddly in a play pitched towards easy laughs.

Until June 25

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