Posted in 59E59, Brits Off Broadway, Bull, bullying, domination, humiliation, Mike Bartlett, teamwork, work environment, work place

Work is a special kind of hell in "Bull"

Sam Troughton and Eleanor Matsuura in Mike Bartlett’s “Bull,” part of Brits Off Broadway at 59E59 Theaters.
Photo by Carol Rosegg

If the only intriguing thing about Mike Bartlett’s “Bull” were that he had a recent success off-Broadway with a play called “C**k,” it might be enough for some of us. But “Bull” is far from a mere companion set-piece, offering the cutely indulgent possibility of being labelled “C**k” and “Bull.” 

Eleanor Matsuura and Adam James in Mike Bartlett’s “Bull,” part of Brits Off Broadway at 59E59 Theaters.
Photo by Carol Rosegg

“Bull,” in a Sheffield Theatres production at 59E59 Theater’s Brits Off-Broadway festivities, through June 2nd, is in fact, a rather brilliantly brutal study of humiliation and dominance.

Sam Troughton and Adam James in Mike Bartlett’s “Bull,” part of Brits Off Broadway at 59E59 Theaters.
Photo by Carol Rosegg

Thomas (Sam Troughton) is alternately bewildered and out-manned by his co-workers, Isobel (Eleanor Matsuura) and Tony (Adam James) as he struggles to survive at work. The team is about to be pared down by their boss, Carter (Neil Stuke) whose visit the three are anticipating in an office made to look like a fight ring, designed by Soutra Gilmour.

Sam Troughton, Neil Stuke, Adam James, and Eleanor Matsuura in Mike Bartlett’s “Bull,” part of Brits Off Broadway at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Carol Rosegg


“Bull” is a cage match, with Carter as reluctant referee. Thomas’ being cut is a foregone conclusion. Carter, unctious and self-assured, describes his mission to downsize as “a cull to save the species, by which I mean the rest of us, from extinction.”

Eleanor Matsuura, Sam Troughton, and Adam James in Mike Bartlett’s “Bull,”, part of Brits Off Broadway at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Carol Rosegg. Choreography by Allistair David and Fight Direction by Christian Thomas.

The actors move about aggressively– or in Thomas’s case defensively– with choreography by Allistair David and Fight Direction by Chrisitan Thomas, in a Darwinian dance of death. The ensemble, under Clare Lizzimore’s direction, is superb.

“Bull” creates the very definition of a hostile work environment.

For more information about “Bull,” visit www.59e59.org.

Posted in 2-hander, Brits Off Broadway, bullying, David Harrower, nuclear testing, Scots Festival

"Good With People"

Andrew Scott-Ramsay and Blythe Duff star in David Harrower’s “Good With People,” launching the 2013 Brits Off Broadway festival at 59E59 Theaters. Photos by Carol Rosegg


Having a nuclear test site in your town might put a damper on tourism. Helensburgh, Scotland has been made relatively desolate. 

People come, but just for day trips, as Helen Hughes (Blythe Duff) laments in “Good With People,” David Harrower’s play enjoying a NY premiere at 59E59 Theaters, through April 21st.
Helen works at the Seaview Hotel where Evan Bold (Andrew Scott-Ramsay) is one of the few guests. Evan, who’s been in Qatar and Peshawar as a charge nurse for many years, has returned for his parents’ remarriage.

Blythe Duff  and Andrew Scott-Ramsay star in David Harrower’s “Good With People,” launching the 2013 Brits Off Broadway festival at 59E59 Theaters. Photos by Carol Rosegg

Evan and Helen share an unpleasant history since Evan, out of loyalty to his dad’s job at the naval facility, was one of the boys from the base who bullied her son Jack after he protested nuclear testing.
The actors are both very good story tellers, holding the attention, despite a minimal story to tell.
Puns and misapprehensions provide some modicum of amusement in “Good With People,”
but Harrower’s very short script seems a bit self-indulgent. Long pauses seem like superfluous dramatic tics in a play that is just an hour long.

“Good With People” is the Scots part of 59E59’s annual Brits Off Broadway festival. It is produced by Traverse Theatre Company and Datum PPaines Plough.
For more information about “Good With People,” and Brits Off Broadway, please visit 59e59.org..