Bull set to be sacrificed in new Company of Ten production


Bull - Credit: Archant

The topical subject of workplace bullying is at the heart of a play at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans which shows how office politics can take a dramatic turn.

The Company of Ten is putting on Bull, written by Mike Bartlett, in the theatre’s Studio from next Friday, January 20.

Three colleagues, Thomas, Isobel and Tony, gather before an important meeting with their manager, Carter. The company is downsizing, and one of the three is about to lose their job.

It soon becomes apparent that Isobel and Tony have decided Thomas will be the sacrificial lamb as they begin a barrage of insults, innuendo and uninvited physical contact, aimed at undermining and overwhelming him.

They do so with the precision of a matador taunting a bull but Thomas, who suffers from anxiety and low self-esteem, has none of The Bull’s power or dignity, while Isobel and Tony offer him none of the respect a matador generally affords The Bull.

The action takes place in the round, with a simple scaffolding “ring”, and the play covers a period of just under an hour.

Director Rosemary Goodman says the play had echoes of BBC 1’s The Apprentice, that sanctions the screening of workplace bullying as entertainment and encourages the audience to become voyeurs of individuals’ suffering.

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She went on: “It’s obvious that the three colleagues do not work as a team, and that one of them will not survive the cull. The audience waits for their boss to arrive and put a stop to the cruelty.

“Meanwhile they witness the systematic and relentless bullying of Thomas, who is slowly weakened by their constant jibes, sarcasm and critical personal comments. Thomas’s fate lies with the boss, who will surely see through the manipulative games being played? Or is it simply survival of the fittest?”

Naomi Jamboretz, who plays the vicious Isobel, commented: “As for Isobel, one rarely gets to play such a monster. Indeed, during rehearsals there have been times when I just couldn’t contine the verbal abuse towards Thomas, played by Simon Dean, because his expressions were so painful to watch.”

Rosemary insisted on plenty of breaks to counter the tension and allow the actors to relax and chat normally.

Performances take place at 8pm next Friday and Saturday, January 20 and 21, and from Tuesday, January 24, until Saturday, January 28. Therer is also a matinee at 2.30pm on Sunday, January 22.

To book tickets click here or call the box office on 01727 857861.