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Bull,...Is the word in Sheffield!!

Published by: Paul Tyree on 11th Feb 2013 | View all blogs by Paul Tyree

                         BULL by Mike Bartlett

A Sheffield Theatres Production, Wed 6 – Sat 23 February

By Mike Bartlett

Presented at the Crucible Studio Theatre
Running time: aprox. 55 mins (no interval)

Bull at The Crucible StudioAt only 55mins long without an interval this is a play designed to be short, sharp, shocking and to hit the audience between the eyes. At £14 per ticket however, this had definitely be a pretty darn good 55 minutes of theatre otherwise you might feel a little short changed at end of the evening.

Undoubtedly this explains the stunt casting of four actors that you will recognise from their many appearances on television. Most recognisable is Adam James here giving us his trademark arrogant city boy which has featured in many tv appearances, most noticeably in ‘Hustle’. Sam Troughton plays a likeable but put upon character much like his character ‘Much’ in the latest incarnation of ‘Robin Hood’. As I write I’ve no doubt you will be under no illusions as to why I believe we should be congratulating the casting agents as much as we should the writer or director of this piece.

The Crucible studio has been transformed into the equivalent of a bear pit or gladiatorial arena, with much of the audience asked to stand around the side to increase the feeling of claustrophobia. Bull claims to be a play about office politics but heightened to such an extent as to be a metaphor for the nature of life. Whilst undoubtedly well acted and directed, it is neither well written enough as to stand as either metaphor for life, or even about office politics. It is, however, a show piece for how sharp dialogue and clever direction combined with first class acting can transport an audience into believing in something that actually, if they took a moment to sit and think about, they would be able to pretty quickly dismiss.

I’ve no doubt, if you ask most people leaving the studio if they liked this piece, they would say yes, and then if you asked them why, they would say it is because of how it made them feel. Many of them, for instance, would have had the female character in this cheerfully crucified. That is not to say, however that you should go and see this.

This is a scene. A very good scene, but without a heart or a purpose. It is not yet a play. At one point the destruction of Sam Troughton’s character is likened to natural selection, to Darwin, just survival of the fittest. Without wishing to hark on about how much the author has misunderstood Darwin, at the end we are left with a very well acted, directed and ultimately soulless, nasty little piece of theatre of very little redeeming value. It could, however, one day grow up to be a very good, visceral, exciting and moving play indeed. One day! Perhaps! But,…and it has to be said….not today!

It’s very cold in Sheffield at the moment. Snow on the ground. My advice…as they say on the news…only make that journey if it’s absolutely necessary. Remember….. Keep safe!!

They’re showing 2 episodes of Frasier in the morning on Channel 4. And it wont cost you £14 to watch those now will it. Love Frasier. Bloody well written. Damn well acted. Free…..Hurrah!!



1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    A few redeaming features, then! I must admit that I am curious about theatrical performances that last less than an hour. I'm a big theatre fan (obv) and I would struggle to drag myself out to town for an hour ...
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