Review Bump/Bully by Kevin Johnson

BUMP BY KELLY JONES
18/4/2019

Raw, unfinished and incredibly gripping.

Joanne, a journalist, auntie and ‘lioness’, tells us about her nephew, Bump, and how she was prepared to take on the whole world to protect him from everything, except for the one thing she never saw coming…


Kelly Jones is a young playwright from Dagenham, who writes with a gritty fondness for her birthplace, and does it well. Her prose is sometimes a little too much, both in a less-is-more style, and also by telling stories we might not want to listen to but really need to hear.

The effects of Fundamentalism, Iraq, Credit Crunch, Austerity and Brexit on the 21st century generation are examined,
dissected and displayed. The murder of MP Jo Cox in 2016 by a right-wing Brexiter gives an unfortunate authenticity to this
drama. Joanne is fleshed out beautifully by Hannah McPake and deftly directed by Jennifer Lunn. Together they give us a
window into a new, fairly unknown world.

Like Shaun Edwards with the WRU, Kelly is an English talent Wales needs to hang onto, because if Bump is anything to go by,this is the start of a talented career.

Her prose is, like nature, ‘red in tooth and claw’, and its rhythms almost touch on the poetic. I look forward to seeing
her future work.

BULLY BY TOM WENTWORTH

The companion play to Bump, written by Tom Wentworth and
performed by Ben Owen-Jones, this is hard, harsh and unapologetically truthful.

Eddie is a lad, a keen rugby-player, and no stranger to the club scene. Then a tragic accident changes everything. He has to reassess his life, and how that impacts those around him…
Bitter, vile and uncompromising, this is not pretty, but it gives us a realistic view of what it is to be disabled, and how that
doesn’t confer automatic sainthood on anyone. 

Eddie is no hero, and his resentment grows at being expected to be one. In fact one of his few saving graces is his stubbornness and refusal to conform to such a stereotype. As he says ‘survival is being selfish’. He isn’t just physically disabled, Eddie is also emotionally disabled, but he never comes to terms with it, and that leads to further tragedy. Like Bump, this isn’t sugar-coated, and all the better for being so. The direction of Abigail Pickard Price and the performance of Ben Owen-Jones give us a person who we pity but we’d cross the street to avoid. As Eddie says “if I’d had my legs blown off in Iraq, you’d all want to shake my hand”.
Instead, we just shake our heads.

The weakness here is the almost relentless scatalogical language, and the bleakness. Eddie is not a likeable person, andthis tests the audiences patience. But like Bump, these are things that need to be said, and they are said well.

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