The Bunker has an alternative Christmas offering this year – if you’re tired of all the jingle bells and Christmas Carols, Niall Ransome has got something for you. Best known as an actor, and a member of Mischief Theatre, this is his debut as a playwright.
FCUK’D is a one-man play based on what Ransome observed growing up in his home city of Hull. Boy’s younger brother Matty is on the verge of being taken away by social services; his mum has withdrawn since their dad left, so he does everything for Matty and is desperate to keep him close. One day, after school, he hears the dreaded cars approaching and takes drastic action – they go on the run. Obviously neither of them has much, so they have to steal food, sleep under a bridge, and even steal a car to try and get further away. What will become of them?
The play is written in verse, giving it a pleasing and engaging rhythm throughout. There is just the right balance of rhyme too – given the quite serious and hard-hitting subject matter, this is very well judged. Too many attempts to squeeze a rhyme out would definitely lessen the effect, so this has been very cleverly put together. The focus of the story is highly relevant to the continuing austerity we face in a relentlessly uncaring Tory Britain – and the festive season is as good a time as any to highlight this.
Grace Venning’s design presents us with a tracksuited Boy, walking around what looks a little like an astroturf sports pitch, with piles of dead leaves and a lamppost at the corner. This is immediately suggestive of any deprived suburban area in Britain, and is a nice simple canvas on which to paint the rest of the story. Peter Wilson’s music and Jess Bernberg’s lighting design add an extra something, subtly injecting detail to the piece.
Will Mytum takes on the task of leading this one-man hour-long show, throwing everything he’s got at the desperate Boy. As well as committing physically (including miming at interacting with Matty), he gives an emotionally charged performance; you can’t help but feel for both of the brothers by the end. Mytum is also an accomplished comic actor, so is more than capable of bringing some light relief at times.
My verdict? A superlative debut play that taps into a very important issue, brilliantly written in verse – a must-see alternative Christmas production.
FCUK’D runs at The Bunker Theatre until 30 December 2017. Tickets are available online or from the box office.