The Stage - Bull review at the Maria, Young Vic Theatre, London – ‘powerfully resonant’
16th December 2015
* * * *
Garnished with a 2015 Olivier Award, it's no surprise that Bull has returned (with a new cast) to the Young Vic, where it won rave reviews earlier this year. And it's great that it has – Mike Bartlett's viciously funny takedown of corporate culture's moral bankruptcy remains powerfully and mercilessly resonant.
Soutra Gilmour's boxing ring set, with standing room for audience members, is an arena for an outcome as inevitable as a staged spectator sport. It spares its participants as little as Peter Mumford's harsh, office-style lighting. And there's no escape for Thomas, outwitted and outmanoeuvred by colleagues Tony and Isobel as they face 'downsizing'.
As Tony, Max Bennett sneers his way through the show's taut running time – a perfectly turned-out City predator, jabbing at the soft underbelly of Thomas' life. Together with Susannah Fielding as Isobel, who mocks her prey's cheap suit with smiling venom, it's like watching two raptors.
Clare Lizzimore's production stalks snappily through Bartlett's dialogue with the same gripping sharpness as his vivid parable of capitalist natural selection. This is a world with no flab of kindness. But, as Thomas, Marc Wootton – boiling with frustration and pain – shows us all of its misery when the knockout punch comes.