Rowan Greaves’ production of BULL by Mike Bartlett suffers somewhat from having to use the fatigued set of the The Aliens, the current “main stage” production at the Old Fitzroy.
The set up of BULL is three employees await a meeting with the head of their company, at which one of them will lose their job, and the existing set distracts from what is supposedly a swish corporate suite.
So the actors are given no support design wise and are left to their thespian skills to conjure their play pen.
Two of the employees are in cahoots, an ice maiden who may or may not have been molested as a child and an Aryan looking fellow who oozes public school snobbery and entitlement.
As played by Romy Bartz and Phillipe Klaus, they form a credible cartel of cruelty against their colleague, smaller in physical and social stature, and a minnow compared their corporate sharks. This target of taunts is played with bewildered fretfulness by George Kemp.
Mind games, power plays and good old-fashioned bullying soon become the order of business, paranoia perpetrated by power mania, a pincer movement that leads to a fatal fait accompli delivered by the trio’s boss, played with ice veined perfunctory by Craig Ashley.
The choice to play the piece with British accents recalls attributions to the playing fields of Eton, where wars are presumably won. On this very uneven playing field, however, a fellow worker meets his Waterloo by despicable and harrowing harassment.
Bullying as spectator sport probably appeals most to masochist merchant mavens especially as a late night trade tirade, and as such, BULL is just the ticket.
Bartlett’s COCK enjoyed a splendidly tumescent production earlier this year at the same venue and his KING CHARLES III is programmed for next year’s Sydney Theatre Company season.
Bull by Mike Bartlett
September 1-12 at the Old Fitz Theatre
129 Dowling St, Woolloomooloo
Tuesday to Saturday 9.45pm, Sun 7.30pm
Tickets $22 (incl booking fee)