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.