Edinburgh Fringe 2013
This is all about the boy who was once told not to cry by his mum because big boys don’t do that sort of thing. He then has to grow up whilst having a relationship, becoming pregnant and then dealing with the loss of his son. Through the stress and awfulness of that tragedy comes more focus and eventually peace for both parents but that peace comes with the price of ending up apart.
One man onstage needs a story that grips. Without it, it can become tedious and difficult. Bobby Bulloch is a likable lad and you have to give the guy credit for making a go of this. His storytelling techniques take some time to warm up but when they do he is worth listening to. He takes us from the misogynistic observations of a lad through his girlfriend’s pregnancy that continues to give us more laboured points about the opposite sex until we see the tragedy unfold and his immature response to that. Eventually through his struggle to come to terms with being a father, dealt a bitter blow with what happens with his son, particularly after he made his peace with impending fatherhood he comes to a place where he is comfortable. Overall though, this is a story that has a happy ending that seems too neat as a narrative arch.
I think the writing is the second weakest element in this. I have been at 4 births and 3 sets of prenatal classes; there are far funnier observations to be made. The cheap gags at the expense of women – peddling on the old Les Dawson style humour – also do it no favours. With a happy ending we are given satisfaction that all is well with the world but I would have been happy to let our young man wallow far longer – even permanently.
Bobby Bulloch starts hesitantly, perhaps due to a lack of faith in his material or response from the audience before he warms to the task and as things progress it gets warmer and better. There are times he is very conversational, almost as if he is making some of it up on the spot but this relaxed manner happens much later. There is a very decent performer in here and this is where I think some decent direction would have worked.
The stage is a very functional couch with some props and things around. It works. What doesn’t work is the number of times costume changes kept us back for far too long with minimal effect.
It would have had far more effect had the script been reworked to allow Bulloch to sit and narrate. I would have enjoyed that far more than having to wait for a shirt to be changed or trousers to go on. At one point the wait was so long that people began getting restless and cough. Not a good sign.
This really needed a firmer hand upon the directing tiller. As a one man show it didn’t add much to the genre and as an exploration of male sensitivity it didn’t do much either. I just enjoyed Bulloch as a narrator with some decent lines in there scattered with wry and bitter observations that nearly got lost in amongst the ponderous costume changes.
The audience were highly appreciative with much laughter behind me. The theatre was nearly full so it clearly has been getting the word out on the street. It is this merit that saved it for me. Inside here and not too deep there is an observer of male difficulties that could be profound and worth of more than it is getting. I just wish it had been more drawn out and dealt more in a more modern and contemporary way with the issues. Having said that it was an engaging time in the theatre that left me thinking; after all is that not the result we would all take?