Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Decky Does a Bronco is a childhood fable about competition, cruelty and imagination set on a battered set of swings.
First we are introduced to David, a thoughtful narrator reflecting on childhood summers spent at a particular set of swings by his council estate home in an unnamed Scottish town. He quickly submerges you in this world of stunts, dares and popularity contests and the remaining cast descend on the swings to demonstrate the premiere trick and ultimate status symbol- ‘the bronco’. The show skillfully mixed dynamic physical sequences with the quieter reflections upon the relationships between the boys contained in Douglas Maxwell’s script. The sight of seeing the performers doing daring stunts on the swings only to see them being copied by real kids in the playground behind the performance area was really something quite special and only reinforced how real the story was.
Most of the young characters, were mirrored by actors playing older versions of themselves – this made for some elegant moments of staging, with movements being echoed and the older selves assisting the young boys in their increasingly elaborate stunts. The use of the swing-set was ingenious and imaginative throughout. Particularly effective was when David, seemingly eternally trapped between childhood and maturity, sat on top of the swings surveying the audience struggling to get a perspective on his memories.
The performances were uniformly excellent, the group of actors perfectly capturing the boundless energy as well as the physical limitations of youth. The moments of cruelty as the boys turned on each other, fighting, chasing and flinging insults were particularly compelling.
The main issue with the text was that the world of the children was so meticulously constructed that it made it sometimes difficult for an adult audience to fully engage. Also, the constant foreshadowing of an ominous event that turned the boy’s lives upside-down also had the effect of removing a lot of the dramatic tension. Another issue was the abrasive lighting that solely consisted of 4 large flood lights, and audience members who sat in the wrong position were dazzled, for the wrong reasons.
Decky Does a Bronco is a beautifully realised production and is a clear reminder of the significance of Grid Iron to the Edinburgh theatre scene.