Friday, May 03, 2013

Mike Bartlett Goes Back To The Ring

From left: Eleanor Matsuura, Sam Troughton, and Adam James; Photo credit: Carol Rosegg
Last summer, Mike Bartlett presented New York theatergoers with a cockfight in the form of two lovers vying for the attention of one man. Now we get a bullfight in the form of three employees fighting for two spots in a company. I personally find the politics of relationships more interesting than that of a workplace, so I was not as invested in Bull, but, like Cock, the writing is sharp and it's being given a polished production as part of the Brits Off Broadway festival at 59E59.

The set (designed by Soutra Gilmour) is a square ring with some audience members standing around it and the rest in arena seating. Isobel (Eleanor Matsuura), Tony (Adam James), and Thomas (Sam Troughton) are waiting to meet with their boss Carter (Neil Stuke). At first, Isobel and Tony pick on Thomas subtly, telling him he has something on the side of his mouth to undermine his confidence, but as the play progresses, their bullying becomes more cruel and explicit. You can pretty much guess the direction the story is going, but it's entertaining, the perfect length of 55 minutes, and features a fine cast, especially Troughton, whose inevitable breakdown in which he becomes the "bull" transcends the gimmick.

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