Yes of course, it would be possible to go to a Bingo Hall and have similar experience to watching the Manchester Royal Exchange’s production of Everybody Loves a Winner. The audience enters the stalls through an entrance lined with fruit machines, and once in the auditorium they are confronted with a replica Bingo Hall with the rectangular tables awaiting the players. Other entrances to the stalls are now fire exits. In my view, it’s not the point that we could go to a Bingo Hall to play bingo and not bother with this theatre visit, because even though the production gives the audience chance to play bingo, we also get a snippet into the lives of the people who visit and work at this particular Bingo Hall. Amongst the customers who queue for the morning, afternoon and evening sessions is Elsie (Joan Kempson) who causes problems for the hygiene team (toilet cleaners) and wants the world to stop at the moment before the last number is called. There’s Maureen (Sally Bankes) who wants to win so she can go and have a holiday in Sharm el-Sheikh. Maureen becomes competitive with audience members and she is so ambitious that if she wins, she will be going home drunk in a taxi while the rest of us are still on the bus. There’s Janice, the nurse, (Patti Clare) who brings her mother to the bingo, but also nurses her at home. There’s the staff, Debbie (Emily Alexander) and Joy (Amanda Henderson), with dreams of being models and pop stars, but have their future, according to the manager Linda (Sally Lindsay) ,starring them in the eyes in the shape of Elsie. Ian Puleston Davies’s bingo caller, Frank looks confident as he calls the numbers, but underneath he is uncertain and fragile.
There’s a reflection of the kind of work that comes out of the Hull Truck Company here. This production is funny, touching and definitely gets the audience involved.
Reviews and Previews
Everybody Loves a Winner (Independent on Sunday)
Everybody Loves a Winner (Times Review)
Everybody Loves a Winner (Independent review)
The Stage Review of Everybody Loves a Winner (The Stage)
Everybody Loves a Winner (Observer)
Everybody Loves a Winner, Manchester Royal Exchange (Financial Times)