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Theatre review: Bud at the King’s Head Theatre

19:44 22 June 2012

Neil Sheffield in Bud at the King

Neil Sheffield in Bud at the King's Head Theatre. Photo by Agata Lulkowska

agata lulkowska 2012

Nick Darke’s one-man play revived after more than 25 years in gripping production

If you have 50 minutes to kill one evening over the next couple of weeks, pop round to Bud’s Cornish farm kitchen in the King’s Head and fall under his spell as he tells you about sheep tagging, his love affair and marital problems with Myrna, undesirable posh, pheasant-shooting neighbours, and four-legged chickens.

This unusual, gripping one-man short play by the late Cornish writer Nick Darke was originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company. It’s last London outing was down the road at the Almeida in 1985.

Neil Sheffield is excellent as Bud, whose wife is the farm’s owner and also his boss. His rustic dialect charmingly conveys simple good humour and warmth, though Sheffield shows a scarier, more complex side when Bud’s blood boils.

He’s tormented by the “l’il acid drops scorchin’ holes in the starched napkin of our marriage”. He beats himself up with worries that other people believe his motives are less than noble. Did he marry Myrna, ten years older than him, because he loves her, or to get his hands on her farm?

The psychological warfare and “battle of strength” aren’t just between Bud and others. They occur in his own mind and stem in part from his frustration with his flawed intuition.

Bud, then, is an interesting mini-play that packs a lot in, although the supposedly shocking revelation at the end didn’t come as much of a surprise. Oh, and four-legged chickens really do exist, and apparently lay eggs like a machine.

* Bud is at the King’s Head Theatre in Upper Street, N1, until July 8.

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