The phrase “Survival of the fittest” might have come from Darwinian theory more than a century ago but it’s one that still holds true. It can be interpreted in many ways, including justifying some ruthless workplace acts that are shown in Mike Bartlett’s Bull. Directed by Glenn Hayden and presented by Here and Now Theatre, (who have also done Crumpled – The Imperfectness of Love Stories) this is a play that shows you the lengths that people can be pushed to in a modern office setting that’s no less harsh than the laws of the jungle.
What’s Bull About:
Three co-workers – Isobel, Thomas, and Tony – are waiting for their boss, Mr. Carter, who is going to decide which one of them is going to be fired due to the downsizing of the company. This is a common scenario in society and the impending layoff brings out some the worst in the three employees. Thomas is different from Isobel and Tony, who can be as charming as they can be cruel. There is tension between them that will eventually push someone to a breaking point. Although the three are equally good at their job, it is only the weakest one who will lose.
Bull uses minimal set and the story is shown in a single uninterrupted scene. Thus, it falls upon the actors to keep the play riveting throughout and they completely step into their roles. Shivam Khanna as the anxious, awkward, and tense Thomas displays a marvelous range. Bhumika Dube playing Isobel and Aakash Prabhakar as Tony are great at hiding the true intents of their characters – they can be likable one minute and make you suspicious the next. Nikhil Murali as their boss, Mr. Carter, has also given a commendable performance.
Bull also deals with bullying at the workplace, which isn’t something that is usually discussed in our country. It makes for great theatre but it also highlights the problems in the office that many might have experienced themselves. In Thomas, Isobel, and Tony, you might find bits of people that you might actually know.
What Could’ve Been Better:
Bull makes you lie in an agonizing wait just like the three employees to find out which one will be fired but you won’t be bored because there are emotionally-charged exchanges between the characters all the way to the end.
Why You Should Watch:
Bull is a relatable play that is merely about an hour long, making it a short watch. Go for the amazing performances by actors who will manage to entertain you with nothing more than just the delivery of their dialogues.
Image credit: Shrikanth R. Poojari