Bud Review

First off a confession, I know nothing about Nick Darke.

Nick Drake, the iconic singer songwriter who was probably too beautiful for this world, sure.

But not Darke.

In fact, when I first read the press release for Bud it sounded like something the great Charles Bukowski might have written of low life of and high times.

As the great buck is one of my favourite writers, it’s fair to say I had high hopes that Bud would be something similar.

Bud is a youngish farm hand who gets together with Myrna, who’s not quite so young but as a wealthy farm and land owner, she is not without her charms.

Their obvious age differences, as well as relative stations in life, set people’s tongues in their rural community wagging, not that our Bud gives a damn.

You see he loves Myrna.

Sure, it may not have been love at first sight, but he’s come to realise his love for her is real.

And Bud’s no fool, or is he?

Staged in the traditional fringe theatre venue of the King’s Head in Angel, Bud is a Darke tale of what happens in the farming lands of rural England.

With little more than some cornflakes, a rocking chair and some exposed red brick walls; Neil Sheffield is Bud, as well as every other character, as he tells us of his story in flashback.

There’s something quite peculiar about theatre’s “one-man” show, with a single actor switching between characters through little more than how they flick their hair, contort their face or play with the pitch and accent of their voice.

Sheffield does a great job of throwing himself into the titular role of Bud, as well as caricaturing his absent love Myrna, and a handful of lesser characters throughout.

There are tales of four legged chickens, which seem ever more prophetic in these days of modern gene manipulation the food industry force upon farmers, and dashes of black humour when said chicken is chucked into a tumble dryer so Myrna can keep up appearances with the local aristocracy.

But there’s something about the source material that just didn’t grab me.

Bud never really engaged me fully in the reality Darke sought to create, only ever clawing at the dark underbelly of class differences that exist in Cornwall’s farmland.

The end feels unexpected, and yet wholly predictable too; as though this was the easiest way Darke could think of to cleanly wrap up what he’d begun.

In spite of some dramatic zeal from Sheffield, and no little flair from the show’s production team, for me Bud just ain’t no Buck.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

June 2012