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A CurtainUp London Review
Four men meet up for the Red Bud races. Normally Greg (Peter McDonald) arrives as a competitor with his bike and supporting his antics on a bike in the air gives the group its focus. But this year Greg hasn't brought his bike. Instead there is his pregnant wife Jen (Lisa Palfrey) and the whole group feels let down.
Red Bud opens dramatically with Jason (Hywel Simons) whose leg is on fire after he mistimes a jump over the camp fire. This image of up in the air and then rolling around down in flames is reminiscent of the motorcross event, the risk of landing the daring manoeuvre badly. The catalyst here is the arrival of Jana Dafflito (Isabel Ellison), Fireman Bill Ronfeldt (Trevor White)'s much younger girlfriend, "some piece of nineteen year old pussy". Gorgeous and sexy, the other guys can do little other than ogle and feel jealous of Bill's luck in pulling this girl. Her youth also reminds them that they are getting older. Jen, heavily pregnant, mopes around looking miserable and is resented by Greg who openly criticises her. Greg fields the disappointment that he isn't competing this year.
Tom Hadley's realistic set has tents and grass and even a real trailer and there is the constant buzz of the crowd but I'm not sure the onstage tent erection went as smoothly as it might. Although the performances are convincingNeveu's playdoesn't seem to have anything of great moment to comment on other than a general sense of nostalgia for past camaraderie now lost and the destructive power of alcohol and youth.
Red Bud opened on the day when the Royal Court received a record number of nominations, more than any other theatre including the National Theatre in the 2010 Evening Standard awards for their risk taking and often very successful programme of new writing.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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