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Bitches Ahoy! review at Above the Stag, London – ‘predictable but entertaining’

Simon Burr in Bitches Ahoy! at Above the Stag, London. Photo: PBGstudios
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In 2016 Martin Blackburn’s first play Alright Bitches! proved a firm favourite with Above The Stag audiences. A brash, bawdy comedy in the manner of the Carry On scripts it’s no surprise that Blackburn’s second play continues in the same vein. Revisiting three protagonists from the original, Bitches Ahoy! sees the trio of ex-flatmates Garth and Max and social worker Pam on a gay cruise of the Mediterranean.

Inevitably the nautical double-entendres come thick and fast and once again, Blackburn proves adept at delivering a snappy script, laced with acerbic humour that still feels vaguely naturalistic. Much of this is thanks to intuitive direction from Above The Stag associate director Andrew Beckett and a canny cast including three actors returning to the roles they created. Ethan Chapples as party boy Garth and Lucas Livesey as the sniping Max bicker venomously with other as only close friends can. There’s an easy chemistry between the two that fuses garden-fence gossip with sexual innuendo into something akin to Dawson and Barraclough’s Cissie and Ada, but informed entirely by gay culture.

The catalyst between the two characters is Hannah Vesty’s Pam. Extremely comfortable in her own skin, Blackburn’s out-spoken social worker is phenomenally thick-skinned and Vesty evidently relishes the physical as much as the verbal punchlines. Add to the mix Chris Clynes as Garth’s disenchanted boyfriend and Simon Burr as a buff conman with a seriously dodgy accent and you have a recipe for some predictable but entertaining comedy.

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Verdict
Comfortably predictable, but entertaining, comedy sequel
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