Reggie Perrin

This production of The Bullet by Joe Penhall was performed at The Donmar warehouse in Londons West End in April and May 1998.

The Bullet is about the life of a suburban family - two lovers return from sun-kissed life in the Far East to a suburban London family in crisis. In a wry exploration of personal politics and family values, Penhall exposes the shifting loyalties and power struggles that startingly follow.

When you're given the bullet, you're fired and you enter what is referred to in Joe Penhall's new play as the culture of redundancy. Such is the fate of Charles (Miles Anderson), a discarded, middle-aged journalist - reporter and chief sub editor - who thinks criteria is a single noun. He is angry, insomniac and hitting the bottle. His son Robbie (Neil Stuke) returns home with a new girlfriend, Carla (Emily Woof). His other son, Mike (Andrew Tiernan), has become an alcoholic drop-out but drops by for money and scraps. His wife Billie (Barbara Flynn) suffers in near silence.

Penhall, one of the laddish new Royal Court playwrights, once bragged of having never read Ibsen. Well, he's obviously caught up with Eugene O'Neill. This is a short day's journey into night with exact plot and character parallels to O'Neill's lacerating family drama. Good on atmospheres, Penhall is beat at describing Charles's headlong rush to an almost Jonsonian insanity. But the play meanders in countless, unresolved directions. The acting is fine, Neil Stuke notable as a slimmed-down Gazza lookalike and Ms Woof intriguing as ever with few opportunities."

Michael Coveney, The Daily Mail


Author: Joe Penhall; Directed by: Dominic Cooke; Cast: Miles Anderson , Barbara Flynn , Neil Stuke , Emily Woof