The play is delivered virtually prop-free (just some mirrors and chairs) by three actors who keep the momentum and rhythm flowing with no breaks or tricks for a full 90 minutes – that’s some achievement. Although some of the dialogue was occasionally not quite delivered perfectly this was a very minor criticism of an excellent first night performance by all three actors.
Helen (played by Jessica Hammett) was the backbone of the entire performance – her pain was so well conveyed and so believable that at the crisis of her story (a wretched one of heartbreak and recent loss) I wouldn’t have been surprised if one of the audience hadn’t got lost in the moment and gone to give her a big hug. Her story was set in the awful time a few years ago with the cattle pyres on our farms, and explored the human loss of that situation. Also – to my embarrassment – when it looked like it was all over for her, despite the total lack of props and effects I still got ready to flinch and look away!
Stephen (Peter Clapp) seems pretty unlikeable at first but his story leaves you realising that no one is without their own extenuating circumstances – no one is untouched by hurt. We all deal with it differently, but it hurts just the same. His story explored his rejection and worthlessness as his ex-girlfriend married someone else, and as well as culminating in one of the most dramatic scenes in the play, he delivered some great one-liners and got the most laughs.
Jamie (Alex Christofi) takes us on a rollercoaster ride of emotions and I both liked and disliked his character the most at different times of the play – at first a goodtime jack-the-lad, then a racist soldier, then a heartbroken brother – and trying to deal with the conflict of male desire wanting to both worship and defile a woman, which ultimately leads to him breaking down – and asking a priest for a hug whilst reassuring him ‘I ain’t bent’!
At one point I thought we were going to see three tragic endings, and whilst the trilogy of crescendos brings all three characters to a somewhat satisfactory place to leave them, I won’t spoil the endings for you. In summary, a spare but complex play taking you on three separate journeys but all with the underlying wounds of loss and rejection. In the words of the Director, Alice Lacey – the three characters with their separate stories never meet, ‘…yet it is this very lack of coherence (why these characters on this one stage?) that encourages us to search for common ground at a deeper level...and makes ‘Bone’ such an effective play.’