Enigmatic wartime angst in Bully Boy | Theater | Indy Week
Pin It

Enigmatic wartime angst in Bully Boy 

The shrapnel of war in Bully Boy

Photo by Alex Maness

The shrapnel of war in Bully Boy

In Sandi Toksvig's military drama, BULLY BOY, Major Oscar Hadley reflects that more British soldiers in the Falklands War committed suicide than died during battle. Hadley knows this firsthand, having acquired his wheelchair during that profoundly bewildering tour of duty. The shared story of that injury leads Private Eddie Clark, just back from Afghanistan, to conclude, "Because you went to war, you lost your legs. Because I went to war, I lost my mind."

In this disturbing 90-minute play, Hadley tries to unwrap an enigma while investigating Clark's actions during an Afghan village attack that left a woman and an 8-year-old child dead. But instead of confronting what's commonly called the fog of war, Hadley encounters its shrapnel instead: contradictory, blown-apart fragments that form no coherent picture.

Hadley and Clark's relationship changes during the extremes of combat and its aftermath. Since Tokvig leaves a lot of space for us to fill in between episodic scenes, the jagged edges of these transitions remain exposed—some more so than I am prepared to believe. A pivotal scene turns the tables far too conveniently on her characters; elsewhere, technical design helps director Kari Barclay underline the schisms.

Justin Brent Johnson convinces as a frustrated Private Clark, and company founder Gregor McElvogue excavates the pain of Major Hadley. But the enigma of Bully Boy remains unsolved at the end. Perhaps it must be so. If we knew the answer, the face of war might lose the mask that lets us bear to look on it.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Imagine that"

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Theater



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

I commend Mr.Woods on his insight. There is a lot to think about in both his article and the following …

by natty on Justice Theater Project's superbly sung and choreographed The Color Purple has one fatal flaw (Theater)

I saw this show in Chapel Hills. This was the first time I had seen a Paperhand's show. It was …

by Irene Griest on Paperhand Puppet Intervention’s The Beautiful Beast Makes Merry With Monsters of Myth and Memory (Theater)

Great review! Fans of Decision Height and the Women's Theatre Festival may also want to check out The ArtsCenter's interview …

by The ArtsCenter on Superheroines Historical and Fantastical Power Two Memorable Women's Theatre Festival Shows (Theater)

Four of our friends accompanied us to this production. We have seen other Wendy Ward productions and loved them all …

by Gann Watson on Embark on a Timely Voyage Into Immigration Issues in I Wish You a Boat (Theater)

Thanks for the correction, Dustin. The playbill listed the wrong actor in the role.

by Byron Woods, INDY Theater and Dance Critic on Evaluating Bare Theatre's Experiment in Free Public Shakespeare on the Eve of Its Final Show (Theater)

Comments

I commend Mr.Woods on his insight. There is a lot to think about in both his article and the following …

by natty on Justice Theater Project's superbly sung and choreographed The Color Purple has one fatal flaw (Theater)

I saw this show in Chapel Hills. This was the first time I had seen a Paperhand's show. It was …

by Irene Griest on Paperhand Puppet Intervention’s The Beautiful Beast Makes Merry With Monsters of Myth and Memory (Theater)

Most Read

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation