Bound is Jesse Briton’s first project as both writer and director and was premiered to critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2010 by Bear Trap, the young and innovative theatre company he formed with one of the play’s stars, Joe Darke.
Now, Southwark Playhouse’s inimitable, dank vault provides the perfect setting, with most of the action ensuing aboard a trawler as six Devon fishermen brave the turbulent seas on the eventful, traumatic final voyage they never expected to take.
The dramatic reaches and effects of recession are examined as the men find themselves flung together in a confined space under near impossible circumstances and relationships are tested against the backdrop of one man’s competitive desire to avoid financial ruin with little regard for the consequences. The voices of reason and experience clash with both unabashed arrogance and tragic lack of awareness as the characters veer toward their painfully inevitable conclusion.
The six-strong cast is sensational throughout, the actors’ ease with their roles always obvious. Thomas Bennett’s sensitive portrayal of Kerdzic, the bewildered, unknowing Polish agency worker is of particular note as is Joe Darke’s Graham, who handles the gradual transition between strident flamboyance and uncontrollable panic masterfully.
Occasionally, especially in more raucous moments when tempers fly, some of the hilarious dialogue is lost, but this is largely a symptom of the venue’s acoustics which in turn actually lend themselves marvellously to the wistful, note-perfect singing of old sea shanties between scenes.
A compelling and moving piece of theatre which left this reviewer (and, judging by the standing ovation, the majority of the audience) completely spellBound (sorry!) and anticipating the future endeavours of Bear Trap with relish.
- Helen Macdonald