Thursday, 14 December 2017

The invisibles… FCUK’D, The Bunker

“You’d be surprised how many people you don’t see, not really…”

The author Christopher Priest wrote a book and play called The Glamour which theorised that the art of not being seen could, by logical extension, make some people invisible. It sounds daft but those of us who stand unnoticed at the bar or walking on the shady edges of the pavement may indeed be difficult to spot. Of course, when the person looking actively doesn’t want to see you… then you vanish.

So it is with the children on the edge of relative and actual poverty whose home environment leaves them ignored by parents addicted to the search for fleeting oblivion through drink and drugs: if they don’t want to notice even themselves what time have they for children?

Some 100,000 children run away from home each year, a Wembley full of unloved and damaged individuals who still haven’t coalesced as adults, every year. Niall Ransome, a member of the Olivier Award-winning Mischief Theatre Company, drew on his own experience of growing up in Hull in writing FCUK’D, his first play.

He wanted to take a closer look at those who end up with no future simply through accidents of birth and environment: just the kind of people that so many of us Guardian-readers have sympathy with but sometimes find inconvenient and intimidating.

This is a subject you don’t run at head long and Ransome’s use of verse enables the construction of a visceral and empathetic fable, which perfectly suits the damaged children at the centre of the narrative. The main character, Boy, is a teenager already run out of track but who has a younger brother, Matty who is bright and has a chance.

Will Mytum plays Boy and gives a remarkable performance of threatening vulnerability occupying the stage for an hour of monologue, character-play and pantomime in its original sense. Will waits outside school for his brother, jumps from his bedroom to avoid the social services, runs through the rain with his brother and steals a car and I swear you could hear the brakes squeal as they made their getaway.

This all action approach is matched by the syntax of the verse with some exceptional passages describing in vibrant detail the streets in which they live as well as their speed of escape. The pace picks up in the most visceral way during this escape and also the play’s conclusion and it takes a heck of a performer to play these words so well!

You are completely absorbed by the story as the two boys pursue their hopeless quest…  Ransome, who also directs, makes the most of the Bunker’s darkly intimate space where the watchers can be watched by the performers. All of which makes Mytum’s performance all the more remarkable.

By the end you have sympathy with this lad, this scally (in Scouse terms), who you’d normally cross the road to avoid. All we need is understanding and a little love…

FCUK’D truly is, as promised, an alternative show for the festive period and I would highly recommend it as a play for today that humanizes shell-suit culture in a way that should make us all the more determined to fix ourselves and a society in which so many fall through the cracks. We need to notice people more…

It plays at The Bunker until 30th December tickets available from the box office site or telephone: 0207 234 0486.

IthankyouTheatre Rating: **** 

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