Review Bully, Unsolicited Theatre, WMC By Rhys Payne

Bully was a one person play performed in Ffresh at the Wales Millennium Centre. It was written for Unsolicited Theatre by playwright Tom Wentworth.  This was a work in-progress reading which makes this play difficult to review. This play follows the story of Eddie a gay rugby player who becomes disabled during an accident. He becomes angry and frustrated and takes this out on the people closest to him.

The character of Eddie was played by an actor who was a wheelchair user and so this served as a visual reference that Eddie is disabled. Due to prior knowledge and experience this made the character justified in his anger as he was confined to his chair which was discussed heavily through the play. This production was raw, somewhat realist and very emotional. As this play was a work-in progress reading and had no staging and props (excluding the wheelchair itself) the focus should have been on the acting or performance of the play, instead it was focussed on the script and its story. But unlike Bump I seemed to focus on the page turning of the script. This script reading became very obvious as it was held by a metal arm attached to the wheelchair and sometimes appeared in front of the actors face. This took the focus off the actor and onto the paper script itself which was something I did not think should happen but understandable with it being a work in progress.

This play was told by a friendly and approachable character in a wheelchair. His mannerisms and speech patterns made me feel as if this character was somehow related to me. We have all experienced a uncle or family friend telling us a story about when they were young and doing silly things to try and warn us against it. As this story was about something that happened in the past it felt like one of these stories. On top of this the story contained many funny lines which made the audience chuckle which only added to the relatability of the character. The section of the play where Eddie discussed being in the crash and being in the hospital was very vivid and realistic. To the point where I could image myself experiencing the accident while the words were being said it created a clear imagine of the hospital in my head.

This production was a lot less moving and emotional than Bump which may have been to the actor moving across the stage, while this did allow for change of topics and a chance for the audience to understand what had happened and to add to the realism of the piece. At times it created unnecessary pauses and forced my attention to the captioning (where parts of speech were missed out and certain words were incorrect, which would have caused problems for people who needed them.) The thing that confused me most about this production was why was it called ‘Bully?’ On Unsolicited Theatres website it states the character becomes a bully while being disabled and them becomes bullied. I think this concept was missed in the production. The events at the end of the play are somewhat like a bully but I felt as if it appeared more as a loss of anger then something he would do respectively. But this may have been due to the fact I felt a connection to the actor and so unconsciously refused to accept him as a bully, which is a sign of good writing. Either way, Bully is a hard-hitting play that gives an insight into how it feels to become disabled which made for a very interesting watch.

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