Saturday, September 30

Bones – Park Theatre

Rugby – a physically tough sport, with broken bones, but there is also a camaraderie around playing a team sport that creates a supportive network, all pulling together for ‘the Club.’  The players physical toughness belies the mental wranglings that go on with any team sportsperson before a match – will I be good enough today; I hope that I do not let the team down!

Written by Lewis Aaron Wood, Bones delves into the mental health of the rugby player, in particular Ed (Ronan Cullen).  Ed is used to being in the thick of the action, in the scrum, fighting for the ball, taking the knocks, beavering away in the background to help his team on to victory.  His closest friends Charlie (Samuel Hoult) and Will (Ainsley Fannen) play for the same team, and the play begins with their friend Ed, leading the team to victory, and into the regional semi-finals.  For the team this is amazing news, a chance to celebrate.  Ed is unusually subdued.

Bones, is a multi-sensory experience, taking the audience through the turmoil of a rugby player’s mental health, but also demonstrating the physicality of the game with visual explosions of brutal strength.  The set is simple, artificial grass and benches, anything else would hinder flow of the play.  The lighting is kept simple, except for poignant moments which are captured by a spotlight at the side of the stage, as though we are voyeurs into their conversation, adding layers of narrative to the play.

As for the direction, Daniel Blake has taken up the challenge of combining the gamesmanship of rugby, that need to win, with the frailty of human emotion.  The script allows the performers the opportunity to find their way through the maze of emotions that Ed is experiencing, both with his rugby playing, and his personal life.  He doesn’t really understand himself why he feels this way, and by gradually using Charlie, Will and Ed’s Dad (James Mackay) to draw out his feelings, the writer (Wood) has created a touching exploration into the passionate but also, pressurized nature of team sport in general, with rugby being used as the example here.

This is a tough play for the cast, as they must deliver lines, and make them audible whilst undertaking tough rugby manoeuvres.  Director, Blake, has also made the scenes involving the physical side of the sport, scrums, tackling, passing the ball, an integral part of the play.  The choreography is superb, the precision involved indicates a lot of time spent in the rehearsal room, and we are left with a version of ‘rugby street-dance’!

You do not need to be a fan of rugby to go along, just an appreciation of well-crafted theatre. 

In its 10th year, Park Theatre is maintaining its high standard of producing and collaborating and long may this continue in these challenging times for theatres wanting to produce new work.  This work was produced by Redefine Theatre Company and the LooseHeadz charity.

I highly recommend going along to Park Theatre to see this show.  To buy tickets go to – The play runs until the 22nd July in their Park90 theatre.

Reviewer: Caroline Worswick

Reviewed: 10th July 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.